Sunday, May 29, 2011

Product Review: Fresh, Organic Apples

I have ordered over 20 pounds of apples each month for the past 3 months and they have been wonderful!  I have ordered a 20 pound box of Braeburn apples, a 3 pound bag of "In Season" apples, and many 3 pound bags of Fuji apples.  I leave them sitting on the counter and after 4 or 5 weeks, when we eat that last apple, it is just as good as the first one we ate.  I always sort through my apples and set out any that have bruises (usually only a few out of 50 apples will have some bruising) and we eat those first.  The price on these apples is fantastic, $.83/pound right now and I've seen it lower than that!  If you haven't already, why not buy some apples next month?  It is so convenient to have a healthy, simple snack at the ready. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Well, you can see that these muffins didn't rise at all and are not the prettiest things you've ever seen, but they were moist and tasty and DEVOURED by my two littlest ones (the big kids were out-of-town).  I found this recipe on

Dry Ingredients: 
1/3 cup sucanat
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:
*2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 4 tbsp water
*(or 2 eggs)
3 tbsp oil (melted coconut or palm oil or butter)

1 apple, grated
1 tsp cinnamon

cinnamon and sugar blend for sprinkling on top

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl and quickly add to the dry ingredients.  Add the flavorings and stir very briefly.  Divide among 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar blend.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken Taquitos

This was my first time to make taquitos.  I thought it would be time-consuming, but it really wasn't that bad.  Here are my "just winging it" instructions.

I used leftover cooked chicken, chopping it up kind of fine.  I then seasoned the meat with whatever I felt like: sea salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder...

Then, heat some oil (coconut or palm oil)  in a skillet or griddle.  I used just enough oil to almost cover the bottom of the pan.  Lay your corn tortillas in the hot oil and leave them just long enough to become pliable (a few seconds).  Pull them off, fill with chicken, roll up and place seam-side down on a  plate.  Repeat this process until you've used up all of your chicken. 

Add some more oil to your pan if necessary and place the taquitos seam-side down in the hot oil.  Let cook several minutes until crispy, then flip over cooking the other side.  Remove and drain on paper towels.

I served these with some last minute Spanish rice (I mixed leftover brown rice with some salsa), and soaked black beans.  Next time it'd be nice to have some guacamole, or ranch dressing, or green sauce, or queso...  to dip the taquitos in.   These were a big hit with everyone in our house.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Product Review: Fresh, Organic Pineapple

Mmm, mmm, mmm....  The pineapple I received in my May order was absolutely delicious!  It sliced like I was cutting through butter.  Not woody at all.  Super juicy and wonderfully sweet!  It was gone in no-time and I wish I had more.  If you haven't already, be sure and look into Azure Standard's fresh produce.  They should have more options available as the northern states get into their growing season.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

I really love this soup.  I know it's May and I shouldn't be talking about pumpkin-anything, but just file this away for use in the fall!

This is another great recipe that I found on

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup pumpkin puree (I just use the whole can)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sucanat
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or soak and cook your own)
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 4-5 minutes.

Add the cumin and curry powder and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.

Add the broth, thyme, pumpkin, sea salt, pepper and sucanat.  Bring to a boil.

Stir in the black beans and tomatoes.

Reduce heat.  Cover and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat.

Stir in the 1/4 cup sour cream.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lemon-Scented Sauteed Poulet with Legume Ragout

This is my slightly altered take on a Rachael Ray 30-minute recipe... it was SO good!!!  The six of us gobbled it ALL up.

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried thyme
sea salt
4, 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 pound bacon (about 5 slices), chopped
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 lb frozen cut green beans
1, 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or soak and cook your own)
2 tbsp dried parsley

Combine lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil and half the thyme.  Place chicken breasts in shallow bowl, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Pour lemon mixture over top of chicken.  Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add a tbsp of olive oil.  Add the bacon and cook until crisp, 3-5 minutes.  Add the onions, sea salt and pepper and the remaining thyme.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes - get the onions nice and brown.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the frozen green beans.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining tbsp of olive oil.  Add the chicken and cook on each side for 5-6 minutes, or until cooked through.

When chicken is cooked, add cannellini beans to green bean mixture, heat through (about one minute more).  Top the beans with parsley and lemon zest.  Check for seasoning.  Serve the chicken breasts sliced on an angle over a serving of the beans.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 1 lb of cooked chicken)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp cumin
sea salt
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 small zucchini, small dice
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
3 cups chicken stock
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (soak dried beans if can!)

Heat a soup pot to medium high. Dice chicken. Add oil to hot pot. Add chicken, season with poultry seasoning, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Lightly brown chicken on each side. Add bell pepper, zucchini, onion and garlic. Cook vegetables with chicken 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Add corn, tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock. Bring soup to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer at least 10 minutes. Add black beans and heat through.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beef Tips in Gravy with Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Green Beans

How's this for some home cookin'?

Beef Tips in Gravy

1 lb beef stew meat
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups water
2 tsp organic beef base (I'm trying to get Azure to carry this, right now I buy it in bulk from
1 onion, sliced
sea salt

1-2 tbsp arrowroot (or cornstarch)

Heat your oil in a cast iron skillet if you have one. Brown the beef tips on each side - just browning here, you don't have to cook them all the way through. Cover with water and mix in the beef base. Throw the sliced onions on top, cover and simmer on low for a couple of hours. Watch your water levels, you made need to add extra.

When the meat is tender remove it with a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Remove the fat and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Return to the pan. Turn the heat up to bring the broth to a bubble. Mix your arrowroot and a little bit of water, then whisk the mixture into the hot broth. Stir until thickened (it won't take long), turn off the heat. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Mashed Potatoes

Just make these however you normally would.  I used about 6 fist-sized red potatoes, boiled them until tender, mashed them with almond milk and seasoned them with sea salt and pepper.

Garlic Green Beans

1 lb frozen green beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Place your frozen green beans in a large skillet and just cover them with water.  Turn the heat on high and bring them to a boil.  As soon as they begin to boil, dump the beans in a colander to strain the water and stop the cooking process.  Return the pan to the stove and lower the heat to medium.  Add the oil and get it hot.  Saute the garlic in the oil just until brown (don't let it burn!).  Add the green beans back to the pan and toss with the oil and garlic mixture.  Turn off the heat and season with sea salt and pepper.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Water Kefir Soda Success!

UPDATE: All fermented foods contain a slight amount of alcohol due to the fermentation process. Water kefir made with a short fermentation time - 24 hours with the grains, 24 hours in the bottle - as well as the small ratio of sugar/juice:kefir - will have an alcohol content similar to that of an over-ripe banana (around .5%). For comparison: most beer has an alcohol content of 4-6% (wine is usually 7-15%) and a can is 12 oz. You would need to drink 6-8 bottles of water kefir to equal 1 beer. I think your bladder would give out before you could ever get a buzz... This is to caution you though that letting it ferment longer, or increasing the sugar/juice will increase the alcohol content (up to 1-3%). Use good judgment!

I found this list of water kefir benefits from

Here's just a few of the MANY benefits of drinking Water Kefir...

Contains a wide variety of good bacteria and beneficial yeasts as well as many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes.

Has antibiotic and anti fungal properties.

Contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from many conditions, including AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, Candida, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Can stop unhealthy food cravings, especially cravings for sugar and sweet foods.

Aids in the digestion of all foods.

Has a tonifying affect on the intestines, reduces bloating, and flattens the abdominals!

It appears to cleanse the liver. In Chinese medicine the liver rules the skin, eyes, and joints. Thus, Water kefir can ease aches, joint pains, and vision woes.

Many see changes in their complexion and overall condition of their skin.

Brown liver spots may fade as can skin tags, moles, warts, etc.

With high levels of valuable minerals, including potassium, natural sodium, and chloride, the hair, skin and nails become stronger and have a prettier shine.

It appears to have a beneficial, cleansing effect on the endocrine system (adrenals, thyroid, pituitary, ovaries). Women find that their periods are healthier; some who had experienced early menopause have found this important monthly cleansing returning again.

It increases energy and gives you an overall feeling of good health.

Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, ADHD and autism.

Drinking water kefir regularly can help promote bowel movement, relieve all intestinal disorders, reduce flatulence and help create an all together healthier digestive system.

It's cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity.

Personally, it eased my psoriasis. It can also ameliorate eczema and acne.

It tastes great... and its really inexpensive to produce!

To make 1 quart of water kefir soda (2, 16 oz bottles) you will need 1/4 cup sucanat, 3 cups *water, water kefir grains, 1 cup (or less) organic fruit juice.

1/4 cup organic sucanat = $.33 (when you buy a 2 lb bag)
1 cup organic juice = $.48 (using organic grape juice concentrate)

It costs $.81 to make a quart of healthy, delicious water kefir soda, or $.40 for a 16 oz bottle! How awesome is that?!

*The water you use needs to have minerals intact so a spring water, mineral water, hard well water or tap water (boiled for 20 minutes to remove chlorine/chloramine) are your best options.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gingersnaps (GFCF)

We are experiencing food allergies at our house. Suspects are wheat/gluten, dairy, soy and coconut. And, oh yeah, I think eggs. I will be posting more allergen-free foods in the future. This is an adaptation of a Betty Crocker recipe.

1 cup sucanat
3/4 cup palm shortening
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill GFCF Baking Mix
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp sea salt
cane sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat sucanat, shortening, molasses and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except cane sugar.

Lightly grease cookie sheet with shortening.

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Dip tops in cane sugar. Place balls, sugared sides up, about 3 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Product Review: Kombucha Wonder Drink

Do you see these three empty bottles? These three empty bottles make me very, very sad. A couple of years ago I first read about Kombucha - an incredibly healthy drink that should be enjoyed everyday. After reading about how to brew this fermented tea I decided that I surely didn't have time to do that, plus it probably tasted gross.

Once I realized that Azure Standard had flavored Kombucha, I decided to give it a try. Three bottles cost $6 (on sale) and that was worth it to me to see if I like the stuff or not. Those three bottles lasted me six days and ever since I ran out I can't stop thinking about Kombucha! Oh, I love it!!!

After drinking my first serving of Kombucha I thought it wasn't bad and I could definitely drink it each day for my health. The second day, I couldn't wait for my Kombucha time (in the quiet afternoon, while the little ones are napping). Now I'm hooked and going through withdrawals!

My May order includes 12 bottles of Kombucha Wonder Drink, Niagra Grape. Not only that, but I have a Kombucha starter reviving in my kitchen that I ordered from Cultures for Health. It takes a while to get that going, but when I do you'll get an update. While I was shopping online I went ahead and ordered some Water Kefir Grains... Everyone (well, maybe not the littlest one) is enjoying their water kefir. I have a little more experimenting to do before I post about that as well. When my Kombucha and Kefir are thriving I will be able to share starters with you. Let me know if you're interested!

Wow, this turned out to be a long post and I haven't even talked about the benefits of drinking Kombucha. Oh, why don't I describe the taste for you? At first it is very effervescent, then tastes slightly sweet and ends with a faint and fleeting hint of apple cider vinegar. Mmmm...

INGREDIENTS:  Kombucha, organic jasmine tea, organic cane sugar, organic Niagara grape juice concentrate.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hash-browns, Turkey Sausage and Scrambled Eggs

When I make Barbecue Baked Potatoes I throw in several extra potatoes to make homemade hash-browns. Just bake the potatoes, let them cool and peel the skin off. Then grate the potatoes and store them in the fridge (if you'll be using them soon) or in the freezer. When you are ready to cook them, just heat up some oil in a skillet and fry them. I like to season mine with sea salt, onion powder and garlic powder.

We ate these hash-browns alongside some scrambled eggs courtesy of the hens that live in our backyard. Also, I love making this homemade sausage...

Turkey Breakfast Sausage

1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

Combine all ingredients and mix well. If time permits, refrigerate overnight to let the meat absorb the flavor of the spices.

Form into patties, or cook in crumbles, until no longer pink.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

6 fist-sized red potatoes
sea salt

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen green beans or peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup carrots, sliced
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then scrub (peel if you want), dice and put your potatoes in a pot covered with water. Bring them to a boil and cook until tender (you'll mash them with butter, milk, salt and pepper later).

In an oven-proof dish, brown your ground beef with the onion and garlic. When cooked add in the broth and veggies. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until your potatoes are ready.

Mash your potatoes however you like, but leave them a little stiff. Top your ground beef mixture with a layer of potatoes. Pop in the oven and bake until bubbly (20-30 minutes).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How To: Soak Dried Beans

In a previous post I briefly discussed why you should soak your grains, nuts and legumes. Today I will walk you through soaking your dried beans before you cook them. This will make your beans easier to digest (less gas!) and they will cook up faster.

For each cup of dried beans you plan to cook, you will need 1 tablespoon of whey or lemon juice.

Rinse your dried beans under cold water and place in a stainless steel or glass container. Cover you beans with several inches of filtered water. Add the appropriate amount of whey or lemon juice. Cover and let sit on the counter for 12-24 hours.

Dump out your soaking water and rinse the beans. Place the soaked beans in a pot and cover with several inches of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the top (gas!). Turn the heat down and simmer until the beans are bite-tender. Different size beans will have different cooking times. Most beans will cook in 1-2 hours.

I like to cook several pounds of beans at a time and then freeze them in recycled jars (I save most of my glass jars from store bought pickles, salsa, etc). I just measure out 14-16 ounces of beans and liquid then put them in jars and pop in the freezer. I always have "cans" of soaked beans ready to use. Just don't forget to allow them time to thaw. It's hard getting frozen beans out of glass jars!

Soaking and cooking up your favorite dried beans will be better for you and save you money! Here's a little "math with beans" lesson for you:

A 5 lb bag of organic black beans cost $9.35 and produced the equivalent of 10, 15 ounce cans of beans. That breaks down to $.93/can. If you buy cans of organic black beans you'll spend $1.45 each! That's a 64% savings! Woot!