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Pumpkin Oatmeal

We eat oatmeal at our home about two to three times each week because it is cost effective, filling, and nutritious. But it can often get a little old without some fun variety here and there. With the fall season, pumpkin is a favorite flavor that adds a scrumptious taste to traditional oatmeal. It’s yummy, simple, and healthy!

2 cups rolled uncooked oats
3 1/2 cups coconut milk (or combination with water or other milk of your choice)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, dash of cloves)
Candied pecans/walnuts
Maple syrup or honey, to sweeten

1. In a medium saucepan, combine rolled oats, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla and spices. Mix till well blended.
2. Place saucepan over high heat on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat and transfer to individual bowls and top with chopped nuts and sweetener of your choice. You may want to add a bit more milk to your taste.

Enjoy!

Yield: 4-5 servings.

Comments { 25 }

How to Make Your Perishable Food Items Last for Two Weeks

After my recent post on menu planning and sharing my current two week grocery shopping routine, I had several readers ask how I made my produce and perishable items (like dairy & bread) last for a two week period. Here are a few tips I have learned to make it work!

1. Use the more perishable produce items during the first week and save the more hearty produce during the second.

For example, we will use the softer produce, green beans, cucumbers, pears, grapes, etc during the first week and use more of the coniferous vegetables squashes, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, apples, oranges, and such for the second week. Pears and bananas usually take a week to ripen anyway, so they can be consumed later as well, depending upon their ripeness at time of purchase.

So in my menu planning, we will usually eat fresh salads, green beans, zucchini, carrot sticks, and such during the first week, with grapes, pears, bananas, and such for lunches, and then once that is consumed, we will eat squashes, broccoli, steamed carrots and other veggies with our dinners during the second week, and more apples and oranges for breakfasts and lunches. I also occasionally purchase some frozen produce (such as spinach, peas, and corn) during the second week as needed for fillers to throw into many meals. Many vegetables can be blanched and frozen to preserve them. This helps preserve the most nutrients. If you store the lettuce properly, we usually can still have fresh salads in the second week as well.

2. Store produce in airtight containers.

A general rule of thumb is that you can rinse and prepare your produce and store in airtight containers in the fridge to extend their life. For a full extensive list on this practice without using any plastic bags, check out: How to Store Vegetables & Fruit without Plastic. This helpful article explains how many vegetables can be stored wrapped with a damp towel or paper towel. I also have found green bags to be very effective in preserving produce in the past. They can be rinsed and reused many times.

Another effective method is storing a paper towel in a ziploc bag with your produce items (lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, etc) and that helps absorb the extra moisture from the produce and prevent early spoilage.

A few tips on specific items:

Lettuce – I recommend buying lettuce in airtight sealed bags or plastic 1 lb bins, as this prevents the lettuces from perishing quickly. Many stores carry organic spring salad mixes in these bins, and I have found they last at least two weeks in the fridge, if not longer. Also, many stores sell lettuce in sealed bags that you don’t have to open until needed, which keeps them dry and preserved for much longer than just buying a head of lettuce.

If you choose to buy by the head, you can also rinse and dry your lettuces with a salad spinner. Allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or so until lettuce is completely dry before transferring to the fridge. Store in the airtight container until ready to use.

If my lettuce begins to spoil, I will simply throw it into a green smoothie, and nothing goes to waste!

Bananas – I find it best to purchase bananas in various stages of ripeness so they can be used throughout a two week period. If they start to fade and I cannot get to them, I will simply open them up, cut into small chunks, and stick in a ziploc bag in the freezer to use with smoothies on another occasion. This works really well.

Pears – I store pears on the countertop until they just start to get ripened and then I transfer them to the fridge in a paper bag to preserve them until they can be consumed.

Apples & Oranges – These store well in the same drawer together in the fridge. Apples do give off a gas that can cause other fruits to spoil more quickly, so it is best to keep one drawer for just apples and oranges, since oranges are not affected in the same way.

Berries - I buy all my berries in bulk during the summer time and then freeze them in ziploc bags to use throughout the year for smoothies. The key is not to rinse them until they are ready to be used otherwise they perish quicker in the fridge or clump together in a frozen mess in the freezer.

Onions – I keep these together with potatoes, winter squashes, and other vegetables and fruit that take time to ripen on a shelf in my kitchen. These can also be stored in the fridge to preserve them longer. I try to keep one or two in the fridge at all times, as the refrigeration process seems to eliminate the watery eye syndrome that is common with onions.

Celery - This can be stored upright in a jar with a small amount of water in the bottom to keep them fresh. Cut off the ends and store them by individual stalks. More often then not, I just keep in the original bag and it lasts just fine.

Mushrooms – I usually buy mushrooms by the pre-assembled package to help preserve them. Otherwise, store in a brown paper bag.

Bread- (Obviously, not produce item, but someone asked how I extend the life of my bread) Since we eat a fair amount of bread, I buy a dozen loaves of bread at a local discount organic bread store and store in the freezer and pull out as needed. This prevents any bread from getting moldy.

Milk – We go through about three gallons of milk every two weeks (we certainly could use more but we are also on a budget ;) . I usually buy raw milk for the first week and a half (since that is about as long as it lasts before going sour) and then a gallon of organic milk for the last portion. We just have to make sure we use it slowly but surely and not overindulge to make it last the full two weeks.

Cheese & Butter- These two dairy items freeze very well, so I will buy my cheese in a 5 lb block and cut it into 1 lb chunks and place in ziploc bags in the freezer until needed. Butter can be stored in the original box and pulled out also as needed.

All other dairy products seem to last just fine for the full two week period.

Remember, it will take a bit of trial and error to figure out how much you will consume to make a twice a month shopping excursion work for your family. I know personally, it took me two or three tries before I really figured out how much we needed to eliminate quick trips to the store between the two week cycle. And that’s perfectly normal and okay. I also find it useful to make sure to plan in a extra buffer meal or two (sometime quick and simple (baked potato bar, cans of refried beans for quick burritoes) and dessert, for those impromptu guests and evenings when I just don’t feel up to making a big dinner.

For a complete guide on how to store all your produce, check out this excellent list.

{Photo Credit}

Comments { 40 }

Beef Bourguignon w/Slow Cooker Adaption

Hey friends! My goal this year is to adapt one of our favorite family recipes each month to a more simplified slow cooker version! Here is one of our favorites that I am sharing today while republishing the original recipe from the archives. You won’t be disappointed!

After watching the film Julie & Julia on the life of Julia Child awhile back, I was determined to learn to cook a few of Julia Child’s recipes, starting with her Beef Bourguignon, since it was so emphasized during the film (and I have the very same Le Creuset french oven as well!). After several attempts, I have come up with a fabulous adaption of the recipe that is so much simpler than the original and still ever as delicious! This meal is absolutely fabulous – especially for the meat loving husband. It is certainly a special treat for us on a budget, but it makes the man very happy, so I make it once a month or so. It is also a excellent dish for hospitality and has received rave reviews wherever we have served it. We serve over creamy garlic mashed potatoes or noodles for a delicious comforting meal. Unfortunately, I really failed in my photography on this one…but it is truly my favorite meal!

Ingredients:

  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 2-3 pounds stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 3 cups red Burgundy wine (pretty much any cheap red wine works as well. I recommend sticking within the french wines for best results.)
  • 2-3 cups beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1-2 crumbled bay leaves
  • 2 pounds mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/4 cup butter

Directions:

  1. In a large 9-10 inch fireproof casserole pan, cook bacon over medium/high heat until tender and browned. Remove bacon from pan, while leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
  2. Dry the beef in a paper towel before placing in the casserole and saute it on each side until nicely browned.
  3. Add the carrots, onions, and 1/2 cup beef broth and saute until tender.
  4. After bacon has cooled, chop into small pieces, and then add back to the pan with stew meat and vegetables.
  5. Toss with salt, pepper, and arrowroot powder and mix till well combined.
  6. Add the wine, remaining beef broth, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Add enough liquid so that meat is barely covered. Bring to a boil.
  7. Turn oven to 325 degrees. Cover the casserole and place in the lower third of the oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  8. While the beef is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. In a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to diminish, add the mushrooms. You may want to do them in two separate batches to prevent overcrowding, which will prevent them from browning nicely.
  9. Toss and shake the pan for 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are nicely browned. Remove to a large bowl.
  10. After the meat has cooked for 2 hours, add the mushrooms. Return to oven for the remaining 1/2 hour to 1 hour.
  11. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. The taste improves with age! Simply reheat to serve.

Enjoy!

SLOW COOKER ADAPTION:

Yes! I am all about simplifying and making life easier for myself, so my recent adventure was adapting this recipe to make in the slow cooker. And it works beautifully

Simply throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker. The only changes you will want to make include eliminating the beef stock (as it will make it too wet) and doubling the arrowroot powder/cornstarch. You do not need to precook the meat in anyway. I like to throw the bacon in whole and then after it is cooked, I will remove and chop it up. You can saute the mushrooms as the recipe above describes for extra flavor before adding, or you can simply toss them in as well without any advance preparation. Cook on low for 6-8 hours for best results. You can cook it on high for a shorter period of time, but if you want the stew meat to be soft and tender, it is best to cook low for the longer period. Yum!

Comments { 55 }

Hearty Spaghetti Sauce

I love the Italian heritage that runs in my family and the immense flavors for delicious simple spaghetti sauce. It is perfect for a cozy fall night and a great means of concealing a lot of extra veggies in one place. Plus when you throw it all in the slow cooker or stove top and allow it to slowly simmer all day, the flavors mesh in amazing ways leaving you with a rich satisfying meal. You can add zucchini and carrots discreetly by simply finely chopping them before adding. I usually use a pound of ground beef or half ground beef and half sausage for a tasty addition. This last week I used stew meat and it was good. This is a family recipe that has been passed down through the years. You can’t go wrong.

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 carrots, finely chopped (for disguise purposes)
1 zucchini, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
1-2 pounds ground beef, pork roast, italian sausage, stew meat, meatballs (your choice!)
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz) or 1 quart of homemade canned tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-2 Tablespoons natural sweetener (honey, xylitol, rapadura), for balancing of flavors
2-3 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Parmesan cheese, topping (optional)
16 oz package of spaghetti noodles (we love brown rice and quinoa noodles! Tip: wash in cold water to prevent sticky noodles!)

Directions:

1. Saute onion, pepper, carrots, celery, and zucchini in oil until soft.
2. Add meat and cook until no longer pink.
3. Add remaining ingredients.
4. Cover and simmer for several hours, or transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. If you use slow cooker, add more thickener as needed.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Comments { 20 }

Pink Coleslaw: A Refreshing Salad for A Warm Day

Delicious fresh in-season produce is widely available at the market right now and I have been exploring making a variety of new salads and dishes to consume them all. Coleslaw has been one of those long detested side dishes until I started making it at home. Homemade slaw can come in a variety of different flavors and ingredients, and this fun new experiment made a delicious salad that we enjoyed over several days time (since it is a large batch!). It is pleasantly sweet and full of rich nutrients and vitamins from the wide variety of vegetables combined in this slaw. And it’s a fun color, thanks to the inclusion of beets. If you prefer to avoid the pink color, eliminate the beets and you will still have a colorful slaw with orange, red, and green colors. If you have a food processor, it would help in whipping this up in a flash. This is a refreshing salad for a warm summer day!

5 cups green cabbage, shredded or grated
2 large carrots, shredded or grated
2 apples, chopped
1/2 cup red onion or 3 green onions, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 beets, shredded or grated
1 cup mayonnaise (we used our homemade mayo and it is delish and so much more healthy and frugal than store bought varieties)
1/4 – 1/3 cup raw honey (to your taste)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (preferably raw with the mother)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Combine all the shredded and chopped vegetables and fruit in a large bowl. 
2. Whisk together the mayonnaise, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss over the vegetables and fruit and combine till well mixed.

Yield: 8-10 servings. 

Comments { 8 }

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread in the Bread Machine

Guest post by Emily Benhase

For my first birthday after we were married, my husband gave me a bread machine. I had wanted one for months and loved it! But just a few months later, I was introduced to the “real food”/Nourishing Traditions way of cooking and eating. As I learned more about the benefits of soaking grains before consumption, the bread machine was used less and less. I assumed a soaked bread recipe and the bread machine were incompatible.

I started making Lindsay’s recipe for soaked whole wheat bread, by hand, on a bi-weekly basis, making two loaves at a time (we ate one fresh and froze the other for the following week). Although I did enjoy the process of bread making–especially kneading–I soon realized there had to be a more efficient way to make healthy, homemade bread for my family. I determined to adapt this delicious recipe to use in my bread machine. It didn’t take long before I was successful!

We love this bread. It is our standard bread that we use for toast, sandwiches and simply enjoying warm with butter and a drizzle of honey; we also think it makes wonderful grilled cheese! Especially now that we have added two little ones to our family, I love not only the healthfulness of this bread, but the convenience of my bread machine doing the work for me.

Tips Before You Begin:

  • Make sure the flour/water mixture you’ll be soaking is plenty moist. You don’t want it to dry out, plus this will make it easier on your bread machine to mix in the remaining ingredients the next day.
  • In order to maximize the effectiveness of the soaking, you should make sure you are using warm to hot water.
  • You do need to activate the yeast for this recipe.
  • Any combination of white/whole wheat flour can be used (I use 2 cups white whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour).
  • I prefer white whole wheat flour as it provides a lighter end product. This type of flour can be found in most supermarkets these days.
  • To achieve the most even slices, let your bread sit out overnight. Do not attempt to cut it right after baking (I know it’s tempting, it smells so good!). Letting it sit will help it firm up and will result in nice, even slices. Using a quality bread knife is also very helpful!

I’ve also included instructions at the bottom on how to make the dough in your bread machine and bake it in the oven, if you prefer that method. I have done this many times with great results. If desired, you can double the recipe and make two loaves worth of dough in the bread machine.

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread in the Bread Machine

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice), plus enough water to make 1 cup
1/4 cup honey (I’ve also used raw cane sugar and maple syrup with success)
3 Tbsp oil or melted butter
1/2 cup oats
2 cups whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat)
1-2 Tbsp add-ins (ie, ground flax seed, millet, wheat germ, etc.), optional
2 Tbsp warm water
1/4 tsp honey or sugar
2 tsp yeast
1 1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. Add vinegar, water, honey and oil to the pan of your bread machine. Then add the flour, oats and add-ins, if desired. Start the bread machine on the dough setting and allow to run for about five minutes, just until the ingredients are well-mixed. Turn off or unplug the machine, scrape down any dough stuck on the sides of the pan and allow mixture to soak for 12-24 hours.

2. After the soaking period, in a small bowl, combine the 2 Tbsp warm water, honey and yeast. Allow to activate for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is foamy. Add yeast mixture, salt, vital wheat gluten and additional flour to the bread machine pan.

3. Select the whole wheat setting and desired crust darkness (I use medium) and press start. Keep an eye on the dough for the first few minutes to see if any extra water or flour is needed. You want the dough to be slightly tacky but not too wet.

Allow the loaf of bread to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then cool on a wire rack overnight. Slice and enjoy!

To bake bread in the oven:

Follow steps 1 & 2. Select the dough cycle on your bread machine and press start.

When the dough is finished, remove it from the pan. Punch down and on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, then roll it up and tuck the ends under so it fits in your bread pan. Place the dough in a greased bread pan, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place (I turn my oven on the lowest setting: 170 degrees) until doubled, 30-45 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 350. Bake the bread for 30-45 minutes, until the sides and top are lightly browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely (see notes above for slicing).

Enjoy!

To learn more about soaking, visit The Value of Soaking Your Whole Grains.

Emily is a homemaker who lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband Ryan and their two children: Jericho (2) and Anna (4 months). Their family is passionate about urban living, good food and, most of all, living their life in a way that honors and serves God. 

Comments { 40 }

Frugal & Nutritious Barbecue Condiments

Guest post by Kresha Faber at Nourishing Joy

Summertime has arrived and with it comes outdoor meals. It is such a blessing to gather with friends and family on a warm summer evening to linger over good food and drink and be nourished by each others’ company!

Now, I don’t know about you, but in my family, these gatherings are standard grill fare only: hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixin’s. But the “fixin’s” tend to be rather expensive to keep in stock for our large extended family and I prefer to feed my kiddos whole, natural foods whenever possible, so I started tinkering with recipes to create homemade versions of all our staples that actually taste like the store-bought alternatives.

Thus, today, I offer our take on four of the classics: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish.

(As a side note, I had so much fun developing these recipes that I ended up writing an entire cookbook about condiments, which is due out sometime this month. Stay tuned at NourishingJoy.com for details!)

Easy Peasy Ketchup

Makes approximately 3 cups

1 1/2 cups tomato paste
3/4 cup raw honey
1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (optional)
½ cup water
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 clove of garlic, finely grated
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt (more to taste)

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and stir together with a whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. You may certainly serve the ketchup immediately, but the flavor improves after 2-3 days.

French’s-Style Mustard

Makes 1/2 cup

1/2 cup dry mustard powder
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 clove of garlic, finely grated
1 pinch smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Whisk everything except the cornstarch together in a small saucepan until smooth. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.

About 1 minute before you want to remove the mustard from the heat, stir the cornstarch together with 1 teaspoon of cold water. Then, while whisking, pour the cornstarch into the simmering mustard. Let cook for 1 minute to thicken.

Remove from heat and let stand 1 minute to set. Pour into the serving container to cool. The mustard may definitely be served immediately, but the flavor will mellow after 3-4 days.

Everyday Mayonnaise

Makes approximately 1 ½ cups

The combination of olive, coconut, and sesame may sound strange, but the three blend unexpectedly well. This mayonnaise is scrumptious on burgers and sandwiches, although I prefer a blander mayo for making salad dressings and dips.

2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard (optional)
2/3 cup olive oil or sunflower oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Combine your oils in a measuring cup with a spout or in a squeeze bottle. Set aside.

Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, sea salt, and mustard in a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is combined. (Or follow Lindsay’s directions for 10-Second Mayonnaise.) Then, with the motor running, pour in the oils as slowly as possible, preferably taking 3-4 minutes to add the entire cup of oil.

Sweet Pickle Relish

Makes approximately 1 quart

1 1/4 lbs fresh pickling cucumbers, scrubbed
1 onion
3 tablespoons pickling salt or coarse Kosher salt (do not use regular salt, as the additives will change the color of the relish)
Ice cubes or ice chips
2/3 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup evaporated cane juice
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/3 teaspoon celery seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Coarsely chop the cucumbers and onion in a food processor or food grinder and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the pickling salt and stir so that the salt is well distributed. Place a tea towel directly on the surface of the cucumber and onions, then cover the towel with ice and let sit for 2-3 hours. Discard the ice and rinse the cucumber and onion mixture thoroughly.

In a large saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, and spices to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture has reduced slightly, then stir in the cucumber-onion mixture. Stir well, spoon into jars, and let cool. The relish can be served immediately, but it achieves the best flavor after 2-3 days. Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.

Kresha Faber is the chief writer and blog editor at NourishingJoy.com, a website dedicated to real food, sustainable living, natural homemaking, and joyful parenting. She is the mother of three young children, the wife of an incredibly good man, an opera singer, a cloth diapering instructor, and an avid researcher. She and her husband share a passion for living life thoughtfully and intentionally in response to God’s grace in their lives and she loves to share good meals around a very large table.

Comments { 5 }

Ground Beef Gyros

Gyros have been my favorite food of choice when it comes to exploring the various food carts around Portland…since we live in a city that is famous for these small little restaurants on wheels. One of my goals this summer was to prepare our own homemade gyros with quality natural ingredients, and with some experimenting and fun, I have compiled a recipe that is scrumptious and frugal! We all have been enjoying this recipe multiple times over the last month and it is mouth watering yumminess. Dont skimp on the feta!

GYRO PATTIES:

1 pound ground beef (preferably grass fed) - It is also fabulous with thinly sliced sirloin steak or roast marinated (see below), but ground beef it more frugal so a great alternative!
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

CUCUMBER SAUCE:

1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, cut into chunks
1 cup plain greek yogurt, or sour cream
2 Tablespoons onion
2-3 garlic clove, minced (start with two and add more to your tastes)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

TOPPINGS:

Feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup Lettuce, shredded
1-2 Tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, sliced or chopped
4-5 Mediterranean flat or pita bread (I prefer the soft pliable texture of flat bread over pita bread as it makes a huge difference to the taste – It is available at Trader Joes or in the fresh baked goods section at your local store. Often labeled mediterranean greek flat bread.)

Directions:

1. Combine in a bowl the ground beef, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Shape into 4-5 patties and cook in a skillet until fully cooked. Cut patties into thin slices.
2. To make cucumber sauce: combine cucumber, yogurt/sour cream, garlic, salt, and vinegar in the blender, and pulse until smooth and slightly chunky. (This sauce makes enough for two batches of this recipe, so store the remainder in the fridge until next time! It lasts for a good month).
4. Layer on your pita or flat bread, sliced beef patties, cucumber sauce, feta cheese, onion, tomato, and lettuce. Enjoy!

I recommend that you layer ingredients directly on a flat pita bread rather than trying to open it up. It falls apart too easily if you try to open the pita bread up. Flat bread is my favorite choice as it is more moist than pita bread and more substantial and less likely to fall apart while consuming.

Yield: 4 servings.

Alternative Recipe: If using sirloin steak/roast or lamb steak, marinade in the following blended mixture for best results. A fabulous step up to the recipe!

1/2 onion, cut into chunks
1 garlic clove
3/4 Tablespoon raw honey, xylitol or other natural sweetener (I used honey and it was delicious!)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 pound sirloin steak, cut into thin strips

Marinade for 1-2 hours before frying in a saute pan, and proceeding with the rest of the recipe above.

Comments { 17 }

Our Morning Vegetable Juice in the Blender


My husband and I recently watched, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (watch it free here), and were quite fascinated by this remarkable documentary. I was reminded again how beautiful God designed food to be the healing power to restore order and health in our bodies. I was also challenged to eat more fruits and vegetables and to see that it is more simple than I realized. With my insomnia and hormonal imbalance issues and my hubby’s high cholesterol levels (it seems to run in his family), we have been striving to be more intentional in learning what would be best for getting us both into a place of balance and better health.

Juicing is a simple way to increase your consumption of vegetables in an efficient manner. When juiced, the nutrition is made available to the body very quickly. Juicing helps you to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables as it helps to break them down and  ”pre-digest” them for you. I also love how it helps us add a wider variety of vegetables to our diet that we don’t often eat or prefer otherwise. Beets would be one of those vegetables that is packed full of nutrition but we just don’t honestly eat a lot of it.

But…I don’t have a juicer. And honestly, juicers are kind of a pain in my experience. I had one a while back and it was so much work to clean the whole machine out after each use, our relationship ended rather quickly. Then I realized…there’s got to be a way I can use what I have. And yes, I have found an extremely simple way to make homemade juice with my blender. It’s so easy to do that it has been possible to add it to our morning breakfast meal.

What you need?

A blender (I use my Blendtec which I love and it works incredibly well! You can also use a standard blender, but plan to add more water and add ingredients one at a time)
nut/milk bag or a paint strainer bag (available at your local hardware store)

Here’s a silly little video of me assembling our juice for your viewing pleasure! Don’t laugh…;)

Our Morning Boost: Carrot, Apple & Beet Juice

This mixture of fruits and vegetables is high in vitamin A, C, folate, nitrate, calcium, antioxidants, electrolytes, and iron, giving you a great boost to start your day!  Carrots and beets are especially good for cleansing your blood and liver. As I understand it, apples are the one fruit that can be safely mixed with vegetables (Learn the recommendations about food combining here). But I did read here, that if you juice it, then it eliminates this problem…not sure who to believe on this one. ;)

1 large beet, diced
6 carrots, cut into medium chunks
1 – 2 apples, cut into chunks
2 celery slices, cut into chunks
Handfull of greens – kale, salad greens, romaine, etc
1/2 -1 cup water (when using a blender for juicing, you have to add a bit of water to help puree the ingredients. This is not necessary if you have an actual juicer)

Directions:

1. Wash and scrub all vegetables thoroughly. No need to peel them, unless you desire to do so. Cut up all ingredients into 1-2 inch chunks.
2. Gradually load your blender with each ingredient and add water. If using a standard blender, start with softest ingredient and try adding one ingredient at a time and blend till smooth between each addition.
3. Place blender onto your base and pulse or use whole fruit setting (when using a Blendtec), till fully blended.
4. Place your strainer bag in a large pitcher and gradually pour your juice into the bag. Gently, squeeze the strained juice out of the strainer bag.
5. Compost the leftover pulp (or make it into a fruit leather snack) and consume the juice! 

Consume immediately, otherwise add a bit of lemon juice and place in a sealed container and store in the refrigerator. Best to consume on an empty stomach and 1 hour before or after other food items.

Yield: 32 oz.

In this manner we have juice each morning and cut back on our other food consumption. For example, we now have a 12 oz cup of juice and 1 egg and a half piece of toast for a full complete meal. My husband and I are feeling so much more energized as as result. The kids enjoy it as well!

I believe it is important to maintain a balanced whole foods diet. I believe God designed our bodies to enjoy a wide spectrum of real food that he has fashioned each with various nutrients for our bodies. Each vegetable, fruit, protein, or carbohydrate offers different value to our bodies. Thus, you won’t see me advocating any special diet. We need a whole variety of real foods in balance and moderation to one another. The disadvantage to juicing is that it does eliminate the fiber in the vegetables through the straining process, although apple juice is high in fiber, thus bringing more balance. In light of this, we try to make sure we have a whole fiber green smoothie or other fresh salad at another meal during the day to make sure we are enjoying the full spectrum of nutrition. The benefit of juicing for us is that it gets more vegetables into our body quicker and gives us that jump start on the day with a clearer mind and increased energy.

For a whole range of fresh vegetable juice recipes and detoxing juicing plans, check out Reboot Your Life.

My next mission is to experiment in using the discarded pulp for other food snacks. Muffins, crackers, fruit leather, add to a green smoothie? No waste is the goal…although composting really isn’t wasting in my opinion.

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Homemade Healthy Mayo with a Stick Blender in 10 Seconds

I received a stick immersion blender for Mother’s Day this year…and I have certainly been thrilled with the performance of this little machine. I have made guacamole, mayonniase, baby food, pureed soups right in the pot, deviled eggs, and numerous other food items and it has been a huge time saver with fantastic smooth results. This tool retails for approximately $30. I have tried making homemade mayonnaise in my regular blender several times over the years in my pursuit of using more natural home prepared ingredients, and never had the best results. It sure never got really fluffy and took forever to gradually pour the oils in drip by drip as most recipes required. I was stunned when I made mayonnaise in just 10 seconds with my hand blender. Yes…10 seconds.

This recipe is pretty flexible to use whatever oils you desire. For the nutritional benefits, I chose to use 1/2 olive oil plus another oil. Olive oil alone results in a pretty bitter mayo. But coconut oil alone will give you a very solid product in the fridge once it cools completely. I liked 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 coconut oil, but it still got solid over time in the fridge. So our current favorite is 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 cup grapeseed or sunflower oil for the mildest flavor. It also does not get so solid with these oils. It is easily adaptable to your preferences.

Ingredients:

1 egg yolk (we use local farm fresh pastured eggs)
3-5 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1-4 teaspoons sugar, optional (we used xylitol)
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup olive oil (cold pressed) or coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup grapeseed, or sunflower oil

  1. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Break egg yolk into the bottom of the hand blender jar that comes with your stick blender (or a container that is just wide enough to let the blender pass through – a wide mouth mason jar would work as well).
  2. Add all the other ingredients except oil on top of the egg.
  3. Carefully pour 1 cup oil on top of all the ingredients in the bottom of the jar.
  4. Put mixing blades of hand blender (turned off) flat at the bottom of the jar over the egg yolk, pressing down over the egg yolk.
  5. Turn the blender on high and blend for 5 seconds, holding it in place at the bottom of the jar. Gradually pull the blender up to the top of the jar over an additional 5 second period. Turn off blender. You will then have beautiful fluffy mayonnaise.

Yield: 1 1/4 cup

Caution: Learn from my mistake and make sure to unplug your stick blender before cleaning out the excess ingredients that collect inside the blades. Yes, I lost my finger nail this week in this manner. ;) It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I make silly mistakes just like any other homemaker…

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