A Smorgasbord of Cultured Yumminess!!

Carrots directly from Tonopah Rob's All-Natural Farm

Beautiful carrots from the farmer’s market


I was so pleasantly surprised to see not just one, but two, posts on Facebook today about one of my favorite foods…salad!  Clearly, my friends and I are like birds of a feather, because as I looked at the wonderful deliciousness of the grilled summer squash salad from my Canadian compadre, and the farmer’s market melange by way of my Austin, Texas ami, it was very clear we could have made one another’s salads–no problem!

Humble beginnings to a homemade kraut Photo courtesy of Vera Almann

Humble beginnings to a homemade kraut

And then, to come to my email Inbox today and find another mention of salad, this by one of my favorite companies, Cultures for Health, well, it just felt like the salad days of summer!  No doubt about it–this summer has delivered on a bumper crop of great produce all over the country, and folks are making the most of it.

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

Veggies on top of chopped tomatoes, ready to blend it all together for a fermented salsa!

So, if you have your own wonderful produce you’re wishing to toss in a bowl and create something wonderful, then do check out this article from Cultures for Health…it is FULL of great recipes of cultured foods you can make at home that are a GREAT addition to your salad fix’ins, which will elevate your salad experience to a whole new level!  And for good measure, here’s one of my old favorite recipes, Avocado and Papaya Salad–yum!!

Papaya, avocado, pumpkin seeds and cayenne topping fresh greens from our spring garden.  Absolutely heavenly drizzled with walnut oil and fresh lime juice.  Home-brewed kombucha or raw apple cider vinegar would work great, too!

Papaya, avocado, pumpkin seeds and cayenne topping fresh greens from our spring garden. Absolutely heavenly drizzled with walnut oil and fresh lime juice. Home-brewed kombucha or raw apple cider vinegar would work great, too!



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!

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]





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.

Cabbage and Bacon Slaw — Veggies, Seeds and Carrots Come Together with Cilantro

This gently-cooked cabbage and bacon “slaw” is a tasty, tart salad that is great to have on hand as a side dish, as an entrée over fresh mixed greens, or as a quick snack! The lively cilantro, lime and cayenne offset the earthiness of the bacon and pumpkin seeds. 

Serves 4-6 as a side, 2-3 as an entrée

  • ½ head Green Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ½ Purple Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Carrots, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices organic Turkey, Beef or Pork Bacon, thinly sliced
  • Ghee or Coconut oil for the pan
  • 1/3 cup raw Pumpkin Seeds
  • ¼ cup Thompson Raisins
  • ¼ cup Cilantro, chopped

For Dressing:

  • 3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil • 2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 T fresh Lime juice
  • 1 T raw Honey, Yacon Syrup, or a dash of Stevia
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt, adjust to taste
  •  1/8-1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  •  Sliced Avocado for topping


With a mid-range heat, add a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil to a medium-sized pan.  Add the bacon, cabbage, onion and carrot and sauté to just soften the veggies and gently cook the meat.  Remove from the heat.

Place the cooked ingredients and raisins, seeds and cilantro into a glass bowl.  Combine vinegar, oil, lime juice, honey and seasonings into a cruet and shake well. Pour over the salad, mixing from the bottom to coat all ingredients well, then refrigerate for 2-4 hours , stirring from the bottom occasionally. When ready to serve, allow to warm up to room temp a little, stir again from the bottom, then top with fresh slices of avocado. Bon appetit!

Grilled Nicoise Salad

This Grilled Nicoise Salad is a delicious variation on the classic Salade Nicoise. It is rich in omega-3 fats, healthy vitamins galore, and of course, plenty of protein.

Certainly, freshly grilled tuna fillets would be preferred, but this is a salad that is easy to make when dinner preparation needs to come quickly, with items on hand. But if you do have fresh tuna, use it!

And if you don’t have a backyard grill (or just feel like keeping your work in the kitchen), then use the gas burner on your stove to char the leaves of romaine–in either case, it adds a rich depth of flavor to the salad, a real treat! Just take the entire heart of romaine and place it directly on the grate over a high heat, leaving it in place until the outer leaves begin to blacken, then rotate, so that all sides are charred, but the inner leaves are raw.  Use your grill to also char the outside of the peppers—they become very sweet and pliable when prepared this way—delicious!

You can use canned tuna and anchovies, though it is preferred to use the jarred varieties, available from Portugal and Italy via Amazon.com—doing so does away with the concern over BPA leaching into the foods from the lining of cans.

Grilled Salad Nicoise

Serves 2 as an Entree, 4 as a Side

  • 1 bunch Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, rinsed and dried then flash-grilled
  • 1 organic yellow or red Bell Pepper, grilled and thinly-sliced
  • 2 cups organic Spring Mix Lettuce
  • 2 Carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup organic Sweet Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup English Cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Crimini Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  •  2 organic Eggs, boiled and sliced
  • 1-6 oz. glass jar Albacore Tuna in a Glass Jar  (preferable to canned due to concerns over BPA in the can lining)
  • Anchovies in Olive Oil in a Glass Jar (again, concerns over BPA in can linings)
  • 4-5 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • ½ Valencia Onion, or Maui Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • Coarse Sea Salt (I like Celtic) and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 2-3 Lemons
  • 1 T each Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and Organic Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3-4 T organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  Dash of Nutritional Yeast, if desired

Divide ingredients and arrange all vegetables in a pasta bowl, tossing them with olive oil, lemon juice and vinegars.  Top with eggs and fish,and season with  salt and pepper. Top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, if you choose.


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.

Cousin Dee’s Sweet Potato Pancakes!

Sweet potato pancakes on a Sunday morning 

This is an adaptation of my cousin’s recipe, which she so graciously shared with our family. The thing I love about these sweet potato pancakes is the flavor profile that the raw almond butter delivers. After all this time of not eating wheat, what is often missing in gluten-free recipes is the earthy nuttiness that wheat-based recipes have. The almonds deliver on creating that flavor dimension, and it is great!

This recipe makes a lot of small pancakes. Store any leftover in an airtight container in the refrigerator for snacking or reheating in the toaster oven for breakfast.

Makes approximately 36, 3-4” pancakes 

• 1 cup cooked Sweet Potato (mashed)

• 1 cup Coconut Flour

• 6 Eggs

• Nutmeg and Cinnamon to taste, about ½ teaspoon each

• 1 tsp Vanilla

• 1 ¼ tsp Baking Soda

• ½ – ¾ tsp Sea Salt • 2 servings Stevia or 2 tsp. raw, organic Sugar

• 2 Tbsp Raw Almond Butter

• 2.25 Cup Unsweetened Coconut or Almond Milk (if batter is too dry add more)

• Ghee (clarified butter) for the pan

Combine all the dry ingredients and all the wet ingredients separate of one another, then slowly pour the wet into the dry, mixing well. 

The batter ready to cook 

Over a low-medium heat, add a tablespoon of ghee to a 12” pan or onto a griddle, and roll the pan around, coating the entire cooking surface well.

Pour batter by 3-4” circles into the pan, cooking 2-3 pancakes at a time. Wait until the sides of the pancakes are bubbling and beginning to brown, then flip. (You’ll likely have to quickly scoot the spatula under each then flip, to keep them whole—working without gluten and its gluey nature can have its challenges!)

Pancakes near their flipping-point 

Pancakes successfully flipped!

For each successive round of pancakes, add about ¾ teaspoon of ghee to season the pan.

Serve with clarified butter and fresh berries. 

A stack of pancakes for easy snacking or a quick breakfast later in the week 

Squash and Turkey Bacon Hash

Squash and Turkey Bacon Hash on Arugula and Mixed Greens 

Squash and turkey bacon hash takes a savory-sweet spin on many of the usual Thanksgiving ingredients – a spin that is tasty and very nutritious! The secret to the development of the flavors is being patient and allowing the ingredients to braise a little before scooping and flipping for braising on the other side.

Once cooked, we enjoy it over mixed salad greens and/or arugula that have been lightly tossed in a little toasted walnut oil and fresh lemon juice. However, it tastes wonderful on its own, as a side, or an entrée.

Serves 6 as a side dish, 4 as an entrée

• 1 bunch Kale, stems removed and chopped in 1” strips

• 1 medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

• 4-5 stalks Broccolini, chopped in 1” pieces

• 1 Zucchini, sliced in ¼” rounds

• 3 cloves Garlic, finely minced

• 1 8-slice package of Nitrate- and Nitrite-free Turkey Bacon, chopped in 1” slices

• 2 cups cooked Acorn or Butternut Squash, cut in 1” cubes

• 1/8 c. Chardonnay wine (you could also substitute a little chicken stock, or even water—each option will create a different flavor profile, but all are fine choices)

• Clarified Butter or Coconut Oil for cooking

• 1 Avocado

• ½-1 tsp. Sea Salt, or to taste

• Raw Walnut halves, fresh Lemons and Cilantro for garnish 

To a large pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil. Once melted, add the chopped kale and onion, spreading them evenly over the pan. Do not stir, allowing the kale and onion to braise.

Kale and onion in pan, before braising 

Once braised a little, flip them and add the zucchini, broccolini and turkey bacon. After a little more braising, add the garlic and wine—this will allow the caramelized bits on the bottom to be released and become part of the dish.

Veggies and turkey bacon braised, ready to add the cubed squash 

Cook for a minute or two, then add the cubed squash, incorporating it into the dish, so that the squash comes into direct contact with the pan’s surface. After a couple of minutes, this will begin to caramelize; flip all ingredients with a spatula so that at least 2 sides of the squash are caramelized.

Ready to serve! 

Remove from heat and scoop into pasta bowls, garnishing with thin slices of avocado if you like, as well as walnuts and freshly chopped cilantro. Add a lemon wedge for drizzling over the top. Bon appetit!

Savory sweet hash on earthy greens–delicious!