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Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

Is there anything more inviting than the smell of baking bread? Freshly-baked bread spread with rich butter seems like one of the most wholesome things we could feed our families until we read about the problems associated with gluten, refined flours, or unsoaked grains. Perhaps, like I was, you’re confused by all the conflicting messages you’ve heard about whole grains. Let me explain to you what I’ve learned from the nutritional research of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Sally Fallon’s marvelous cookbook Nourishing Traditions.

Let’s first tackle the subject of gluten, a protein found in many grains. Wheat, rye, barley, and oats all contain gluten, wild rice, millet, and buckwheat do not. Gluten can be difficult for some people to digest, leading to annoyances like flatulence, bloating, and intestinal discomfort. More seriously, those with Celiac disease have a severe gluten allergy that causes intestinal tract damage and nutritional deficiencies.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I often encourage my clients to go gluten-free for at least a period of time to see whether the absence of this protein in their diets leads to physical improvement. Plus I’ve collected so many yummy gluten-free recipes! However, this doesn’t mean that I believe everyone needs to completely avoid wheat or rye products. In fact, those with gluten sensitivities may actually be able to tolerate some gluten-containing grains with proper preparation. One to try is spelt, an ancient member of the wheat family that may be easier to digest than modern varieties. The great thing about spelt is that it can usually be substituted for whole-wheat flour in recipes with similar results.

Maybe you’ve heard about soaking or sprouting grains before cooking, but are confused about why the process is beneficial. All grains contain some amount of phytic acid, an antinutrient that blocks the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the intestines. Soaking flour or grains for at least seven hours in acidified water or cultured milk products like buttermilk or yogurt allows the enzyme phytase to begin breaking down phytic acid, neutralizing this potentially harmful compound and actually increasing nutrient availability. You can think of soaking as a type of predigestion. In fact, because gluten is partially broken down during soaking, soaked grains are generally more digestible for those with gluten sensitivity. You’ll find lots of great recipes using soaked grains in Nourishing Traditions.

Allow me to share one more delicious tip for making whole grains more digestible: eat your bread with a spread of raw honey. The pollen in raw honey contributes an enzyme called amylase (also found in saliva) that helps break down starch into sugar. In effect, you’re initiating the digestion process before you even start eating. How’s that for an easy –to-follow health suggestion?

Make it your goal to avoid commercial bread products, even those touted as healthy whole-grain options. They contain flours that have been stripped of their naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals then fortified with synthetic versions. If you love white bread, experiment with recipes using soaked whole wheat flour. The soaking process softens the wheat so much that it yields results very similar to refined white flour. If your schedule is such that bread making isn’t possible, look for artisan sourdough bread made with whole-grain flour. Fermenting also allows for the breakdown of phytic acid before consumption.

Then tear a piece of hearty bread and top it with a big chunk of cold raw butter. ‘Nothing like it!

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“Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.”

Leave it to the great Beethoven to mix morality with soup. (A tall order for his distressed servants, no doubt!)

Allow me to be “pure-hearted” here and share a recipe that represents a key nutritional foundation with a symphony of possibilities. This soup base is the foundation of every well prepared soup imaginable. Plus, it is free of MSG and preservatives that flavor many store-bought broths and soups.

I start with roasted bones and end with a gorgeous stock.  I find that the most delicious and nourishing stocks are those made from a variety of bones, so plan to save your roast chicken, roast beef, pork, lamb, buffalo and rabbit.

Here’s what else you’ll need:

4 lbs (approximately) of bones (carcass, head, feet, cartilage, antlers, etc)

4 or more quarts cold, filtered water

½ cup vinegar, distilled or raw

2 apples, halved

3 onions, halved

3 celery stalks, halved

3 carrots, halved

Several sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tsp dried green peppercorns, crushed (optional)

1 bunch parsley (optional)

Once your roast has been served, add approximately 4 quarts of water to the roasting pan and scrape the bottom to infuse the drippings into the mix. Toss in any additional bones, heads, feet, etc. and add the remaining ingredients. Be sure that the bones are covered. If not, add more water.

I like to include apples and onions because they impart a sweeter aroma to a stock that might smell gamey otherwise. Vinegar is necessary to draw out the calcium, magnesium and zinc from the bones and render the bone stock more nutritious.

Then, set the pot to simmer for 12-72 hours. Skim off the scum and discard. The pot can remain on the flames for an entire 72 hours or turned off nightly, left at room temperature and reignited in the morning. Once strained, the stock can be frozen.

While it’s still on the stove, this stock can be used as a base for a myriad of soups.  You might find that the stock doesn’t have a particularly appealing aroma but it will taste delicious after it’s strained and used to cook with.

With this base, you can offer “medicine in a bowl” in tandem with the other, family-pleasing meals you serve day after day.


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I’ve made a little discovery.  I can make crackers in infinite flavors and with a myriad of ingredients.  They can be high or low carb, gluten free or include lots o’ gluten. They can be savory when I add cheese and olives, or sweet like graham crackers when I use a touch of cinnamon and maple syrup. And since I realized how easy they are to make, I’ve been making crackers nearly every night for the last few weeks.

I think it’s my new hobby.

Now, when someone asks me “So other than being a homeopath, what do you do for fun?  I say “I’m a cracker-head.”

Familiarizing myself with the components of a cracker was the first step.   I learned that crackers are forgiving.  You can add just about any nut, bean or grain flour with some flavoring, add a liquid, roll out and bake and you’ve got something on which to serve cheese or to spread almond butter.   Last week I added Pecorino cheese, cracked pepper and chopped garlic.

They were Italian crackers.

Then one night, I added rosemary from my garden, melted coconut oil as part of the liquid and tons of shredded coconut.

These were herb crackers.

When I included cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and chopped almonds they tasted like Dutch Windmill Cookies (Speculaas).

Heavenly.

‘Don’t have tapioca flour?  No problem, just use more almond flour.  ‘No gelatin?  Don’t worry, skip it.  ‘Don’t like poppy seeds?  It’s ok.  Just add sesame seeds instead.

The only caution I found to be noteworthy, is that you don’t want to use too much liquid or they’ll stick to your rolling pin.   It’s hard to say exactly how much is just the right amount without knowing if you’ll be using coconut, almond flour or such. Each has its own idiosyncrasies and they require adjusting for more liquid or less.  So, I learned to eye ball it.  A mealy type consistency is the best so that the dough can roll out easily.

But again, crackers are forgiving.

So, if you add too much liquid, just toss more dry into the bowl until it feels as though it will roll out nicely.

Yummy Gluten Free, Low-Carb Crackers

Preheat oven to 250°

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup almond flour or meal
  • 1 cup flax meal
  • 2 cups coconut flakes
  • ½ cup poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup gelatin
  • Celtic Salt, to taste
  • About 2 ½ -3 ½ cups liquid ( water, lemon juice or  yogurt whey)

In a mixer, or a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add the liquid and mix until mealy.

Roll out the mixture between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Until it’s 1/8” thick or less.

Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and place the batter layer still on the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet.  You want the parchment to be underneath the dough directly on the cookie sheet.  Score the dough into the shape of crackers.

Bake until slightly golden, then flip, allowing the paper to release, so that the crackers are now directly on the cookie sheet.

Bake until crisp. Depending on the amount of liquid and type of flour, it may take up to an hour or so until they’re crunchy.

I keep mine in a glass container with a tight plastic lid in the pantry.  So far they’ve stayed fresh, but I think that’s because my family eats them so quickly that they haven’t a chance to get old.

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For Valentine’s Day, why not give your loved ones a truly delicious and wholesome candy; one with ingredients that you love and can feel good about? Here’s what I make for my family on Valentine’s Day.

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate  Layer

  • 1 Cup Green Pasture’s coconut oil (One of the best brands)
  • ¼ cup organic raw cocoa powder (Found at health food stores)
  • Big pinch of Celtic salt
  • 1 tsp of vanilla (I make my own, but any organic one will do)
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 1 cup organic almond flour

In a food processor, mix all ingredients except peanut butter. Scrape out ½ of it and make a  smooth layer of the mixture  on a cookie sheet lined in parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Put the other half aside  and keep at room temperature. While the first mixture is cooling begin the peanut butter layer.

Peanut Butter Layer

  • 1/2 cup  organic peanut butter
  • ¼ cup truly raw honey (the kind that is cloudy and crystallizes when it’s cold)
  • parchment or waxed paper

Add peanut butter and  honey in a clean food processor. Smear the peanut butter topping in a  uniform layer on top of the refrigerated chocolate.

Refrigerate.  Once cooled, smear the last chocolate mixture on the top of the peanut butter layer.  Place back in the refrigerator.  When cooled, break up into individual bit-sized pieces and place in paper  crinkle cups or fashion on a doily.  They may remain at room temperature but a distance from the fireplace.(Yes, there’s a story behind this caution.) Usually, I keep them in a glass covered container in the fridge.

 Minty Valentine Candy

Using the above recipe, omit the peanut butter layer and instead, add 10 drops of essential oil of mint.  Oh heavenly day!

 Orange Valentine Candy

Using the above recipe, omit the peanut butter layer and instead, add 10 drops of essential oil of orange. A little twist of orange peel on top is a lovely addition and denotes which candy is the orange one, if you decide to make a variety.

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Leave those tacky cartons at the grocery store. Wait ‘till you taste this rich and nutrient dense version of eggnog! This drink will offset any other holiday beverages, which by the way, are not as health supporting.

What you and your family deserve this Christmas is rich, thick eggnog that’s loaded with live enzymes, nutrient dense vitamins and of course, deliciously good cheer.

The quality of the ingredients add a superb benefit, but are not necessary.  Go with the highest quality you can find such as raw, organic milk and cream and free range egg yolks. If the eggs are not free-range, try to have at least organic.  Eggs eaten raw should not be conventionally produced.

Here’s what you’ll need:

12 free range eggs

6 cups raw milk

2 cups heavy, raw cream

1/2 cup raw honey (my 1st choice, because of the accompanying raw enzymes, but maple syrup will do, too.)

1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg, plus more for dusting

 

Here’s what you do:

Submerge the eggs (still in the shell) in a large bowl of very hot water plus a few drops of dish soap. As the water cools; wash and rinse, then wipe the eggs dry.

Separate the egg yolks and place them in a mixer together with the honey and beat for 10 minutes. Refrigerate the egg whites (you’ll need them later). Allow the egg yolk mixture to cool in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

30 minutes before you plan to serve, mix the milk into the chilled yolk mixture. If you plan to add brandy, this is the time to stir it in. Along with this, add in 1 -1/2 tsp nutmeg.

On high-speed, in a separate bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.

In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until you have stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then fold the cream into the egg mixture.

Ladle into frosted glasses and sprinkle with the remainder of nutmeg.   Serves 8 cups.

Oh, yum.

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Wouldn’t you love to give a great gift this Christmas? I have three suggestions this year. They’re homemade and delicious, but don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’ll be slaving over a hot stove!

These are easy, but beware.

You’ll want to make a couple extra batches for yourself.

  • Chutney…Kick it up a notch when you add a little spark to an otherwise docile fruit preserve. Fruit chutneys look beautiful and taste festive, too.  Use apples, and try seasoning with cumin or coriander.

Or how about oranges with chili peppers? There are countless variations. Pour your finished product into clean, glass canning jars and for a personalized touch, make your own labels. Here’s a basic recipe for Cherry Chutney from Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions:

4 cups ripe cherries, pitted and quartered

½ teaspoon coriander seeds

½ teaspoon whole cloves

Grated rind and juice of 1 orange

1/8 cup Sucanat

¼ cup whey

2 teaspoons sea salt

½ cup filtered water

Mix cherries with spices and orange rind, place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down lightly. Mix remaining ingredients and pour into jar, adding more water if necessary to cover the cherries. The top of the chutney should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator. This should be eaten within 2 months.

  • Vanilla extract…This universal favorite makes a great, long lasting gift. And, to top that, it’s easy to do. Check out my recipe here! Every time your loved ones add a teaspoon into their latest batch of cookies, they’ll think of you.
  • Slow Roasted Holiday Nuts…Choose your favorite nut or a selection of only raw nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, etc.) and soak them overnight and for up to 24 hours. Drain and spread the nuts on cookie sheets and sprinkle with Celtic sea salt. You can season them with a variety of herbs or spices, such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder, nutmeg, cloves, etc. Slow roast them in an oven preheated to 150° F, for 6-8 hours or until crispy. Place in little paper bags and tie with colorful ribbons.

Enjoy!

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I recently came across an article that described what the original Thanksgiving dinner would have been like. It seemed to look down its long aquiline nose at the simpler fare of 1621, as if our modern smorgasbord actually could boast a superior culinary position. Today, typical meals include lavish, sweet pies made with vegetable oils as folks smear margarines across their white, yeasty, refined rolls. The vaccinated, domesticated, farm raised turkeys sit satiated with nutritionally vacant stuffing…often from a box.

Let me take you back to the feast that started it all. I’m grateful that we can imitate that 17th century wisdom and enjoy humble, pilgrim foods, even now, centuries later.

 The Pilgrim’s spread would have included organic venison, wild turkey, goose and duck. They had dibs on local seafood and cod, bass, lobster and clams could have been served, too.

Their thanksgiving feast wasn’t infused with white sugars or corn syrup  so don’t expect to see bowls filled  with cranberry jelly in the shape of the can or bright yellow, sweet corn. Instead, they munched on toothsome flint corn, which the Indians toasted.  

Instead of rolls and breads made with from bleached and processed flours, expect to see hearty cornbread and sourdough bread.

 Smart moms make these breads to this very day!

Pilgrims hadn’t yet filled their gardens with potatoes, so instead they stewed and boiled their pumpkin with cinnamon, ginger, butter and vinegar. Wholesome vegetables like radishes, carrots, beans, lettuces, parsnips and leaks would have been on their menu, too.

Likely, their seasonal and regional fruits, such as grapes and plums would have made a satisfying tart, seasoned with rosemary and cinnamon.

Yes, their foods were simple.  Their foods were safe. They were not finessed and fussed, but they were wholesome, local, organic and smart. Animal fats and proteins were plentiful, tart flavors were added to the bland and their wheat was fermented.

Time may have provided us with convenient kitchen aids like the oven and Cuisinart, but good, nutrient dense, whole foods are not a fad.

 Thank God.

 May you and your family enjoy a happy and wholesome Thanksgiving.

Love,

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