Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

If you want to talk about a food that gets a bad name, these might be it. No one likes them, everybody hates them, guess I’ll go eat worms. Ummm… or not. Brussels sprouts are one of my most favorite foods. Why? They’re just so much fun to eat! Each one is a mini cabbage that I get to play with and peel. Because I’m 30 going on 5. And sometimes I play with my food. Sometimes I also understand the necessity to get other people to eat their greens. This recipe was born out of that need. According to my brother, who loathes, despises, abhors and detests Brussels sprouts, they did not taste like the delightfully adorable mini-cabbages and were actually quite good. (A huge compliment from a sarcastic 21 year-old!)

They have a touch of ground mustard to give them some subtle heat and a bit of a kick. Not to fear, it’s very subtle and enhances the flavors in the dish. The lemon juice provides a distinctive acidity that is delightfully mellow. I hope you enjoy them! I’ve been eating them alone, with other foods and as a noodle replacement for my marinara all week. So fantastic! 

Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

  • 2 tbsp organic ghee 
  • 1 ½ lbs organic Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed, julienne-cut
  • 1 small organic onion, diced
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, minced
  • ½+ tsp ground mustard (the spice, not the condiment and heap that measuring spoon)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp organic lemon juice

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, melt the ghee and add the onions. Saute until translucent, add the garlic and saute a few minutes more.  
  2. Add Brussels sprouts and stir to mix. Add spices. Cook until sprouts are a bright green (not the gross dark green overcooked crud).
  3. Add lemon juice and stir. Turn off heat and serve warm. 

“Breaded” Fried Zucchini

I’ve been jonesing for this stuff for the past few months and somehow managed to fight the urge to buy zucchini out of season. Not sure how I managed it, but I did. Now that my garden is going crazy, here’s a nice little zucchini recipe for y’all.

I served mine up with some clean BBQ sauce that’s made locally here in Portland. They’re delicious just by themselves but this sauce. It’s an addiction. 

One little note before I give you the recipe: use Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal. Usually, if you’re baking, I’m an advocate for not-Bob’s but this time around, you need the larger “grain” to mimic Panko breadcrumbs. Just trust me on this one. 🙂

image

Breaded Fried Zucchini

  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-3/8" medallions
  • ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal
  • 2 large, organic and pasture-raised eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Test out a bit of egg to see if the skillet is done – you want it to start spattering immediately. 
  2. You’ll need a bowl and a plate – one for the egg and one for the almond meal. Beat the egg in the bowl until it’s well blended.
  3. On the plate, combine the almond meal, salt and pepper and sift with a fork until incorporated.
  4. Dip the zucchini in egg, then in the almond meal and once again in the egg and place in the frying pan. Repeat until the pan is full with a single layer of zucchini.
  5. Cook until the egg is done and golden brown. Remove from pan and put aside. Repeat until all zucchini has been cooked.

Fruit Vinegar

Some of you may recall grandparents talking about sipping vinegar “back in their day” and how it was good for their constitution, gout, the sugar or insert-any-other-old-timey-ailment-word-here. And really, they weren’t all that off. Although their Windex-styled fix-it-all solution is hilarious, they really were on to something.

Natural raw vinegars, ya know, the ones with the mother in them, are quite good for you and are a great source of good bacteria that aid in the health of your gut and overall body. (If your gut is horrid, the rest of you is going to feel horrid because you’re not getting the necessary nutrients to pass through the blood-gut barrier or you’re getting mal-digested nutrients passing through. Bottom line – it’s horrid.)

Anyway, fruit vinegar is easy to make and isn’t super vinegary. In fact it makes a great mocktail. In the heat of the summer, I’ll grab a tumbler, throw a few ice cubes in it, some gassy mineral water (San Pellegrino is my fave) and a bit of the vinegar. The result? A light and refreshing drink that’s outta this world.

You’re going to look at it and wonder how you ever bought your own vinegars. Trust me. I do it to myself. In the mirror. True story. I frequent vinegar shops all the time and have been known to drop $100 on a few bottles of fruit vinegars. Yea. I did that. A lot. Whoops.

A few key things:

  • Your fruit shouldn’t be moldy or rotten.
  • They should be fresh, not frozen (I made that mistake once).
  • Scraps work, too! And they’re economical. Which I like. Bruised fruit is also okay. Use peels, rinds, cores, etc.
  • Use organic. If you can’t afford organic, ask your organic grocer if they have “seconds” in the back. Sometimes they’ll sell you those for a discounted price.
  • Also, if you can’t use organic, stay away from using peels.
  • It’s a lot of sugar, but you need to feed the bacteria something. By the time it’s all processed and fermented, the sugar count will be much less, making it usable if you have a special diet. 
  • Keep fruit submerged with a glass plate, rock, plastic lid (like a yogurt lid, BPA-free).
  • A bowl or wide-mouth jar works best because it encourages oxygen.
  • Save the mother!!! If it develops a mother, save it for a starter for the next batch (and omit the apple cider vinegar).
  • The ratio is 1 part fruit to 2 parts water.

Fruit Vinegar

  • 4 cups fruit scraps or fresh fruit
  • 1 qt filtered water
  • ¼ cup organic sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
  1. Put scraps in the jar or bowl.
  2. In a separate container, dissolve water in the sugar and pour over fruit. (There should be about 1 part scraps to 2 parts water, just eyeball it and add more fruit if necessary.)
  3. Use a rock, plate or a plastic lid to keep fruit submerged. If it won’t stay under, stir daily to prevent mold growth. 
  4. Cover the jar or bowl with a cheesecloth or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. (Make sure fruit flies can’t get in, they LOVE this stuff!) 
  5. Let it sit on the counter for a week and then strain out all the fruit using a fine mesh colander and a coffee filter. 
  6. Return the liquid to the container and cover it again with the cloth or filter and let it sit another 3-4 weeks. 
  7. If white yeast develops, called Kahm yeast, try to scrape it off – it’s not bad for you. So don’t worry. Otherwise, you can strain it out in the end. If mold develops, also known as the fuzzy stuff, pitch it.
  8. Bottle in narrow-neck bottles, cover and store indefinitely (as in it doesn’t go bad) at room temperature.

Lacto-Fermented Ginger Carrots

I know I’ve been focused on fermenting lately but the bacteria that natural ferments provide are such an important part of the diet.

Here’s why: In a healthy gut, up to 5 pounds (yes – you read that right, 5 pounds) of healthy bacteria should be living symbiotically with our body. That’s crazy! Fermented foods aid in that symbiosis by providing the gut with new waves of bacteria as old ones die off.

Vitamin K2, a vitamin that is totally and completely underrated but rocks my socks, is found in ferments. Dr. Weston Price identified it during his research days as “The X Factor” (not to be confused with the television show). He posited that there was some factor in these indigenous foods that was allowing for good calcium absorption and assimilation that resulted in healthy teeth, bones and tissues. Science, unfortunately, had not caught up with him and only recently have they discovered what he was talking about. Natural foods FTW! (I’ve talked a little bit about this in my butter post.)

So these carrots. They are my favorite. So much so that sometimes I eat too many of them. If that’s even possible! ha! They’re gingery and tangy and full of delightful goodness. On a warm summer day, pulling one of these bad boys out of the fridge is just so refreshing. They’re also super super easy. And super quick to put on. And super cheap. All three are a super win in my book. (I’ll stop with the “super” superlatives, don’t worry! – hehe. See what I did there?)

Read More

Simple Vegetable Soup

I feel almost bad posting this recipe. It’s just so easy. And I always get rave reviews so with tomorrow being the Friday Soup Supper at my church – it’s more or less a tradition during Lent, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. (And if people don’t like healthy food, I won’t complain – I’ll be set with leftovers for quite a few days!) But back to the rules of Friday Soup Suppers:

  • No meat products, whatsoever.
  • No meat products, whatsoever.
  • No meat products, whatsoever…. minus fish and shellfish.
  • It must be soup.

Following? K. Good. The rules are simple… thankfully. I wanted to sneak in some bacon fat… but didn’t want to risk it. And, I really wanted something I could eat for a change. (It’s not usual that I get to eat at a church gathering.) So, rather than buy something pre-made from the store as was suggested (ew! Why would I do that to people?!?!?), I decided to toss some veggies together with a few spices and call it good.

Literally.

That’s all I did.

Oh, and I tossed in some red pepper flakes? Why? Because I can. And I like to keep people on their toes.

Note: I HATE cutting up veggies for soup. A few years ago, I bought a veggie cuber thingy. I use it so so so much in the summer when I’m making cucumber and tomato salads or have a bunch of onions to quickly cut or… am making veggie soup. It’s somewhat of a pain to clean as the blades are super sharp. (I’ve been known to kill my finger a few times on it.) But after a while, I’ve learned a technique that works for me. Anyway, it’s not one of my favorite gadgets but for stuff like this, I highly recommend it (especially if you have a BB&B 20% coupon).

image

Simple Vegetable Soup

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 organic zucchini, cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped 
  • 3 carrots, cubed
  • 2 28-oz organic crushed tomatoes in BPA-free cans
  • 4 qt water
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose seasoning (salt and MSG-free, I use the Oregon Spice Blend, bought at Bob’s Red Mill Store in Milwaukie, the blend in the bulk organic spice section at Fred Meyer’s/Kroger’s or the organic blend from Costco)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  1. In a medium sized stock pot, saute onions in EVOO over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute.
  3. Toss in carrots and cauliflower and sautee until tender. Add zucchini and stir. Let sit for another three to four minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes (and all of their juice!) and water. Stir and add spices.
  5. Simmer over medium-low for half an hour, or until veggies are cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Homemade Mayo

If I had known mayo was this easy to make, I would have stopped buying Best Foods/Hellman’s years ago. (And, no – I haven’t bought it for a few years anyway.) The flavor is a bit different than the conventional brands as mine was soy-free and the oils are different. But it’s creamier and nuttier.

My only tip for you – pour the oil very very very slowly. As in very very. A few drops at a time kind of very. This will allow the oil to be blended in completely and won’t break apart the fragments that give it that wonderful floral bouquet once it hits the tongue. Break them apart and… well, it’s nasty, bitter and you’ll want to dump it out.

On to the eggs – farm eggs are the best. Soy-free, organic and free-range. If your local farmer doesn’t wash the eggs first, make sure you do prior to cracking them – and really, this only needs to be done if your eggs have visible dirty spots on them. Which, at that point, if your eggs are crazy dirty, the farmer isn’t tending to his nesting boxes very well and you might want to find a new farmer.

So here’s my recipe. And my roomies had better watch out – I might be dumping their Best Foods/Hellman’s. But it’ll be doing them a favor. No more excess estrogen from the soybean oil and no more nasty fillers. Just good ol’ simple and real foods ingredients.

image

Homemade Mayo

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ½ cup macadamia nut oil or avocado oil (both cold-pressed and extra-virgin)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Whisk all the egg yolks, lemon juice, sea salt, vinegar and dijon mustard together until well blended.
  2. While continuing to mix (a hand blender, set on low works best), slowly drizzle the macadamia nut oil, a few drops at a time and blend until completely incorporated. Repeat until all oil is done.
  3. Next, add the olive oil, blending a few drops at a time, with a  hand whisk, until all incorporated.
  4. Stores in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Beet Kvass

I’m sure by know you’ve noticed that I’ve been on a fermenting kick… it’ll end. I promise.

… Maybe.

Truth is, having a healthy gut is going to let you absorb the nutrients you’re taking in so much better. I can give you recipes that are “this”-free or “that”-free but if you haven’t given your gut time to heal, given it the nutrients that the body needs to facilitate healing and have repopulated it with healthful bacteria, all of that is for naught. So my latest ferment: Beet Kvass. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it? (Kidding.) It’s definitely an acquired taste and the first few times you make it, you probably won’t like it. But stick with it! Your taste buds will be adjusting and usually people come around.

Kvass is salty and picks up the earthiness of the beets. Historically, it was an Eastern European tonic and was more or less the Windex of that area. (Three points for you if you recognize that movie reference.)It’s weird to think that they have carts in Eastern Europe selling this stuff. But, unlike our fried and greasy food carts or 7-11s selling food laden with high-fructose corn syrup and other nasty additives, this stuff is super healthy.

image

(Kvass Wagon from a photo on Wild Fermentation)

According to “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon (which, btw, I highly suggest adding to your library), kvass is

“valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

Traditionally, kvass was not made with beets, but with stale sourdough rye bread. I personally am more than happy with the beets. In an article from  The Weston A. Price Foundation,

Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver cleansing properties and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe. Anecdotal reports indicate that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems.

So here’s the recipe, inspired by “Nourishing Traditions” – enjoy!

Beet Kvass

  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • 2 tsp sea salt, non-iodized and no anti-caking agents (add an addt’l 2 tsp if you do not have sauerkraut juice)
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut juice
  • 3-4 organic beets, gently scrubbed with peel on, and cut into ½” cubes  (any color beet will work and avoid finely chopping or grating the beets, which can lead to very rapid fermentation and alcohol production)
  • Place beets, sauerkraut juice and salt in a half gallon glass container (2 quarts).
  • Add filtered water to fill the container to just below an inch from the top and stir well and cover securely.
  • Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.
  • When most of the liquid has been consumed, you may fill up the container with water and keep at room temperature another two days. The resulting brew will be slightly less strong than the first.
  • After the second brew, discard the beets and start again. You may, however, reserve some of the liquid and use this as your starter instead of the whey.

Sauteed Cabbage

My best friend flew in late last night and I needed something quick to feed her for breakfast before she hopped her train north. I’ve also been on a cabbage kick – it’s a winter veggie and it’s best to eat veggies that are in season locally. They have the nutrients that your body needs to help you cope with whatever season you’re in. Sauteed cabbage is sweet and delicious and filling – especially when coupled with a protein. This morning, the protein came by way of salmon. Always a win in my book!

image

I tend to cook my cabbage in some way before I eat it and never ever eat it raw. For those who have thyroid health problems, namely hypothyroidism, it is best to avoid raw cabbage as it brings thyroid hormone levels down even more. I like avoid that and still get the vitamins A, C and K, phytonutrients (which act as antioxidants) and lots fiber, folate, calcium and potassium my body needs. Basically, cabbage is a powerhouse and one that I would rather not miss out on!

Sauteed Cabbage

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp bacon fat
  • pink salt and pepper to taste
  • a splash (about 1 tsp) raw apple cider vinegar
  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the bacon fat and add onion.
  2. Saute until onions are almost translucent and add cabbage.
  3. Add salt and pepper and vinegar and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Taco Seasoning Mix

I recently purchased a bunch of grass-fed beef and the cow is in process so… I have to clean out my freezer. Which means I eat my older beef as quickly as possible. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? This morning it was taco meat. I ate it with some scrambled eggs and guacamole for a delish high-fat/high-calorie meal (it’s cold, windy and rainy over here in Western Oregon). I guess you could say I’m jonesing for more tropical climates… or San Diego. Which ever is cheapest.

Okay. So, here’s my super easy recipe. I make a whole bunch of it up at once and buy my spices organic and in bulk. There are probably places that you can do this from wherever you live. Here in Portland, we have Bob’s Red Mill over in Milwaukie. They have bulk organic spices and really reasonable prices. I buy my own spice jars and have cute labels. Heck. I even alphabetize my spices. Don’t judge me. You know you do it, too. First and second letter. I need a life. 😛

image

Okay, so once I’ve made a mega batch of taco seasoning mix, I dump it in a half-pint mason jar and put a lid on it. I mark on the lid my ratio – 1 ½ tbsp mix (sometimes I feel like having a bit more zip and throw a bit more in) to a half cup of water. Below is the recipe for a single batch and is for a pound of beef. If cooking more beef, simply double, triple, etc the recipe. When I make my large quantities, I usually make 6 batches at once – those are included in the parenthesis. Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning Mix

  • 1 tbsp chili powder (6 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion (4 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (2 tbsp)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin (3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (1 tbsp)
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (¾ tsp to 1 ½ tsp)
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano (1 ½ tsp)
  1. Mix the seasoning and seal in a air-tight container.

To make taco meat:

  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning mix (may be a bit scant if you are using less cayenne pepper)
  • 1 pound lean, grass-fed organic ground beef
  • ½ cup water
  1. Brown 1 lb beef in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Drain fat if desired. (I leave it in, personally.)
  2. Toss in taco seasoning mix and water and stir until incorporated.
  3. Simmer on medium-low until water is evaporated.
  4. Serve immediately.

image

Note: I included the tag for nightshade-free because spices affect most people differently than the actual fruit or vegetable. If you are still sensitive to peppers and this includes spices, disregard this recipe.

Roasted Cabbage

So I started writing this while I was in the throes of my new diet and decided to not edit what I had written before. I’m feeling much better, but I had zero energy… which is why I didn’t finish a single blog post. Any ideas of grandeur and working out were kicked to the curb and instead, my life consisted of working, eating (barely anything – I felt like I had the flu) and sleeping like Rip Van Winkle. Now on to the original blog post…

image

My naturopath has me on a new diet… and it zapped my energy times a million until today. I might even get a short run in. Thankfully, this one is a 10 day crash course and then I can start getting back to normal. And by “normal,“ I mean a less-restricted paleo. In the meantime, no bacon (WHAT?!), no vinegar (HECK NO!!!) and no fruit/chocolate/wine/decaf coffee/hard cider/gluten-free beer/honey/paleo brownies/coconut milk ice cream/all things that bring my life joy.

So. You’re probably wondering, “What CAN she eat?” I’m glad you asked. Meat. As long as it’s not pork or bacon. And green leafy veggies. Like arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and cabbage. And nuts/nut butters/coconut oil/coconut butter/olive oil. And really, that’s about it. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? It’s mostly paleo. But I love to make my own salad dressings… and they have vinegar. Or I’ll have half an avocado with my breakfast – and that’s off the list. And no eggs. None. So… what does one eat for breakfast if there are no eggs and bacon? Today it looked like a few cucumbers and a handful of almonds. I need to figure this thing out. Luckily, it’s only a week and a half to two weeks. And thankfully, lunch was easy to figure out – roasted chicken breast (salt and peppered) and roasted cabbage (hoping the doc says that roasting veggies is okay otherwise, I’m just going to get a nasogastric tube for the rest of this time). Anyway, done complaining. I hope you enjoy the roasted cabbage as much as I do!

Roasted Cabbage

  • 1 head of cabbage, outside leaves removed, rinsed, and sliced ¾-1" thick
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 10 peppercorns
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a piece of parchment paper on a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with sides).
  2. Pour enough EVOO on the parchment to spread evenly on the parchment paper.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle (or something that will smash up the spices), smash up the spices and set aside.
  4. Sprinkle half of the spice mix on the pan and lay the cabbage in a single layer on the pan and sprinkle with the remaining spice mix on top.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

image