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!

Must See TV! Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs

Lest we forget, we have evolved with the plants of this earth…and our care and wellness are as close as the ground we walk upon and the plants that grow within it.  Here’s a great reminder of this:

Turmeric--Potent Natural Medicine

Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs.

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!

How to Make Butter | Slow Food International – Good, Clean and Fair food.

Straight from Ireland, land of grass-a-plenty and happy cows, simple instructions on how to make butter in your own kitchen!

How to Make Butter | Slow Food International – Good, Clean and Fair food..

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!

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.