good (for you) cooking fats

Before you spritz that vegetable cooking spray in your pan …

WAIT!

Put the vegetable oil down and step away from the stove!

Seriously.

If you’re still cooking with vegetable or canola oil, I want you to consider that canola oil is only five percent saturated fat (WHICH IS NOT A GOOD THING). The process to extract the oil from the rape seed requires high heat, hydrogen, solvents, bleach, deodorant, etc, to make it palatable. It has a high sulphur content, and goes rancid quickly and easily, which makes it difficult for our bodies to digest.

Thankfully, there are finally reports reaching the mainstream that are showing what Weston A. Price knew in the 1930s when he was doing his research on the benefits of traditional diets. Saturated fats are not the enemy.

The news is out: Saturated Fats are not bad for you. 

good fats

I know a lot of people who live in fear of fat.

They cook with teflon or add a squirt of cooking spray to the bottom of the pan. Butter their bread with margarine. Drink low fat milk. Eat non-fat yogurt. And they do it on the order of their heart-conscious doctor.

I’m not going to tell you to ignore the advice of your medical professional. I’m not a doctor, after all.

But I’m going to ask you ton consider that you share this article with him/her. Ask about the new research. Engage him/her in a conversation to understand where the recommendations come from.

In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, PhD, shares pages and pages of evidence refuting what she calls the “Diet Dictocrats” with studies from all over the world that suggest we need fat. She states simply “Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.”

It may not change your world.

It certainly may not change the mind of your doctor.

The evidence hasn’t yet swayed The American Heart Association, but the evidence is clear. And it’s worth a conversation, at least.

So now what?

What fats belong in your cupboard?

IMG_5102

COOKING FATS

Some fats are good for cooking. They have a high smoke-point and retain their nutrient dense composition at high heat. They help us absorb nutrients from high protein foods. And they have a stable shelf life. These are the primary cooking oils/fats that we use in our kitchen:

  • Avocado oil – Nutritionally, avocado oil is right up there with olive oil boasting serious amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It’s also a good source of complex proteins, lecithin, beta-carotne and vitamins A, D and E. But unlike olive oil, the mighty avocado oil has a really high smoke point (500 degrees), a stable shelf life and a very subtle aromatic flavor.
  • Butter – raw, organic, pastured, locally sourced butter is your best bet, as it’s not going to be quite so nutrient dense from cows eating a primarily grain-fed diet. We love Kerrygold Irish Butter because it is grassfed, the only ingredients are cream and salt, and there are no artificial colors. When we’ve got raw milk from our local herd-share, I’ve even been known to make my own.
  • Coconut Oil – unrefined, cold pressed, organic, coconut oil is a great source of lauric acid and has antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial attributes. It’s also so readily available these days. We use coconut oil a lot. In baked goods. For frying. For popping popcorn. In smoothies. In French Toast. We use it topically (on minor abrasions and sunburn). We just love the Coconut Oil.
  • Chicken, Duck, Goose fat – choose duck or goose over chicken for more omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. And look for a reputable source. I’m going to admit that we only use chicken, duck and goose fat on rare occasion. I’ve not found a reasonable and reliable local source for it.
  • Lard – If you can find a healthy source of lard (from sustainably, pasture-raised pigs), lard is stable and good for frying and is an excellent source of vitamin D. I love fresh homemade tortillas … and the difference between ones made with lard versus ones made with vegetable shortening is UNREAL. It’s worth a little homework to find good lard.
  • Beef & Mutton Tallows – The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends use of beef and mutton tallows, but I’ll admit it … I’ve never tried them. If you do, can you let me know how it goes?
  • Peanut & Sesame Oil – good for occasional stir fries, but contains a high percentage of oleic acid, so both should be used sparingly.

EAT RAW (never heat)

These good-for-you oils are staples in our diet. We use them in salad dressings and smoothies, but never in the skillet as heating them destroys their nutrient dense composition and makes them really difficult for your gut to process.

  • Olive Oil – extra virgin, cold pressed is the way to go. We’ve been reading a lot about how finding “pure” olive oil can be a challenge these days as some of the biggest purveyors in the US have been found to have unwittingly been importing olive oil adulterated with soy and vegetable oils. Ugh. So, take some care to make sure when you buy Olive Oil you are getting Olive Oil!
  • Unrefined Flaxseed Oil – Extremely high omega-3 content!! So good for you.  But keep it refrigerated!
  • Grape Seed Oil – We use this primarily because of it’s similarity to Olive Oil. And it’s got a smooth buttery taste. We’ve used it often to make our own mayonnaise, but the green color can be a bit of a turn-off.
  • Nut Oils like Walnut and Macadamia – Both are so tasty, but very expensive, so we use these sparingly in salad dressing. Walnut oil has to be stored in a cool dry place to avoid oxidization.
  • Red Palm Oil – similar to Coconut Oil in that it’s one of the few available vegetable saturated fats. There is some controversy about the palm oil industry, so we don’t often choose this oil. But from a traditional food perspective, this is a vegetable oil that has been utilized for more than 5,000 years.
  • Sunflower Oil – choose cold pressed sunflower oil to preserve Vitamin E and eliminate free radicals produced during other production methods. But keep in mind that it doesn’t contain the good Omega-3 fats. We primarily use this in our homemade mayonnaise these days because it’s nearly flavorless and it’s not “green” like Grape Seed Oil.

RANCID OILS/FATS TO AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE

In the “good ol’ days” oils were extracted using cold pressed or expeller pressed methods that retained the integrity of the “food” in our food. I don’t want to seem old fashioned. But my personal problem with fats like Canola, Margarine, Shortening, etc, is that the process to make them is so volatile (involving solvents and bleaches and deodorizers) that what’s left for consumption has little resemblance to food. If it has to be deodorized because it smells rancid and unpalatable, chances are, it’s rancid and unpalatable. And I don’t need a chemist to trick my body into eating something it shouldn’t.

That said, these are the fats and oils that we’ve scrubbed from our kitchen:

  • Canola Oil – has a high sulphur content and is typically rancid because of the high heat used in the extraction process. There are studies now showing that canola oil can contribute to a vitamin E deficiency (which we need for a healthy heart).
  • Corn Oil – on it’s own, corn oil might not be awful, but since more than 85 percent of the corn on the US market is GMO corn and contains high levels of the pesticide glyphosate, it’s hard to find pure organic corn oil and we avoid it.
  • Cottonseed Oil – first of all, it’s made from the inedible cotton plant. Secondly, it’s near-impossible to come by a non-GMO cottonseed oil because it’s one of the big-4 Monsanto GMO crops. It’s everywhere (margarine, shortening, box cereals, processed cookies, crackers, et al). But it doesn’t belong in the cupboard.
  • Margarine & Vegetable Shortening – the process to make margarine and shortening is called hydrogenation. It goes something like this: Cheap oils (like soy, corn, cottonseed or canola) are mixed with a catalyst (tiny metal particles like nickel oxide) and then pressurized with hydrogen gas to turn the oil into a solid at room temperature. Then emulsifiers are added to correct the texture. It then has to be “deodorized” by “steam cleaning” at extremely high temperatures and bleached to eliminate it’s unnatural grey color. And finally, to make margarine, food coloring and flavors must be added to make it taste more like butter.
  • Soybean oil – like Corn Oil, it’s so challenging to find organic soybean oil. And despite the high levels of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, I’ve read too often that soy is an endocrine disruptor that we avoid also soybean oil.
  • Vegetable oil – the conventional factory process to make vegetable oil involves overheating the crushed seeds, washing them with toxic solvents to extract every last bit of oil, destroying healthy antioxidants in the seeds and resulting oil just isn’t something I want to feed my family.

So now it’s time to clean the cupboard …

… and use more butter.

xo,

Jeanne

Q: What healthy fats do you use and how do you add them to your diet?

maca powder – I’m on the new (ancient) superfood bandwagon

maca powder chai latte

Have you been inundated with all the “new” news about the ancient Peruvian superfood maca powder? I have to admit, I added it to my diet a few weeks ago because I’ve had these lingering extra stress pounds and I had read that it helps stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce cortisol production and boost fatigued adrenals.

And after just 10 days, the number on our scale finally started moving in the right direction. Three pounds in 10 days … not too shabby.

But I noticed other benefits, too.

Like, my mood got a little lighter. Things that have been stressing me out seem a little less intense … like the fact that every time our 2 year old is without diapers for more than 5 minutes he pees or poops on something other than the toilet. Two weeks ago that was a big deal. Now, while I’m not psyched about it, it seems to roll more quickly off my back.

Sure, it might just be that Spring is here. (At least I think it’s Spring. Isn’t that what evening snow and sunny daytime temps in the 40s is all about?) 

But it might also be that the rumors about maca powder are true. Just in case, I’m keeping it in my morning routine.

WHAT IS MACA POWDER?

Maca powder is derived from a root that grows at high elevations in Peru and was for centuries a staple in the diet of Peruvians and Incans. It looks surprisingly like a turnip and is in the brassica family (like broccoli, cauliflower, mustard, etc).

It has the consistency of coconut flour and a subtle nutty flavor that is delicious with all things chocolate.

Because it’s one of the few crops that grows successfully above 7,000 feet above sea level, it’s not surprising that it made it into the diet of high elevation civilizations. But it’s also been celebrated through the ages as a miracle food. Medicinally, it’s been used to boost sex drive in men, alleviate hormonal issues in menopausal women, control weight, and boost mood and energy. Some say a tablespoon of maca is better than a strong cup of coffee for a morning energy boost).

maca chai latte recipe 2

WHY IS IT GOOD FOR YOU?

  • Maca powder contains 55 phyto-chemicals, including vitamins B1, B2, B12, and Vitamin C, Zinc
  • It has amino acids, calcium and phosphorus
  • It is a natural immune booster with 22 fatty acids that may act as a fungicide and antiseptic
  • Maca powder can reduce production of cortisol and relieve stress on over-worked adrenal glands.

HOW TO INCLUDE IT IN YOUR DIET

Add it to your morning smoothie … it’s especially tasty in smoothies made with raw cacao and dates, but I add it to fruit smoothies, green smoothies and everything in between.

Include it in baked goods … I’ve added it to sourdough pancakes with great success (just a quarter cup of maca in this recipe). And I’ve considered adding it to the paleo yam brownies that my kids like so much. But I haven’t done it yet.

Add it to your morning coffee … Just a teaspoon. Any more and I find that it sort of overwhelms the coffee.

Or, my favorite treat these past few weeks …

MACA CHAI LATTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 tsp Cardamom (seeds from 4-5 pods)
  • 1/4 tsp whole Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1 inch fresh Ginger (chopped)
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Darjeeling tea bag
  • 1 tsp Maca Powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • Coconut milk

DIRECTIONS:

To make the Chai Tea, boil 2 cups of water with cardamom, cloves, pepper, ginger and cinnamon added. Reduce to simmer and add the Darjeeling tea bag, let it steep for 5-10 minutes. Add maca powder, honey and coconut milk and enjoy!

Short cut: Steep a Tazo organic chai tea bag for 5-10 minutes. Add maca powder, honey and coconut milk. Enjoy!

Maca Maca Maca …

cherry vanilla chia pod (vegan, gf, refined sugar free)

cherry vanilla chia pod recipe

Last summer we started making homemade chia pod treats.

And as time has gone on we’ve made them again and again. They are totally portable. Absolutely delicious. And completely healthy. (Have you read our post about why you want to add chia seeds to your diet?)

But we don’t limit ourselves to peach pods (because that would be boring, and peaches are not all that available here in Montana). We love chocolate pods. Vanilla pods. Coconut pods. Strawberry pods. Blueberry pods.

But our favorite of all favorites …

Cherry Vanilla …

(which might be because even in the midst of a spring snow storm we are anticipating cherries from our tree)

cherries

Cherry Vanilla Chia Pod Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of pitted Cherries (if you use frozen cherries, thaw them first)
  • 2 cups full fat unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2/3 cup Chia Seeds (black or white)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbls Raw Honey (replace with grade B maple syrup for a vegan version)

DIRECTIONS:

Puree all the ingredients in a VitaMix or high speed blender until well blended.

Divide into individual portions (we use small mason or jelly jars) and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to “set.”

Makes 8 servings.

Enjoy as a healthy snack, as a tasty dessert, a lunch-time treat, an on-the-go-breakfast or anytime (like maybe in the middle of the night after the kids are asleep and you don’t feel like sharing … which is not something I ever do … I swear!

***************

HAVE YOU TRIED MAKING YOUR OWN CHIA PODS?

Would you like to see your homemade chia pod creation make it into the O’Mamas kitchen?

Submit your recipe here before April 15th, 2014.  (Email us with your name, your recipe, at least one or two photos of your favorite version, and a way to contact you. Use “POD RECIPE” in your subject heading please!).

We’ll post our favorite FIVE recipes and you can decide what pod you like best!

Shared on Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Irish Soda Bread – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

I’m Irish on my mom’s side. (Shout out to the Donnelly and Murray clans!)

But my mom doesn’t make Irish Soda Bread because one of her best friends Ann (who is Irish), makes great Irish soda bread and for years shared it with our family on St. Patrick’s Day. And if you have a best friend who makes great Irish soda bread, you don’t have to. (Not that my mom needs an excuse not to bake Irish soda bread because not everyone loves to be in the kitchen, right Ma?)

I don’t have Ann’s recipe.

But my friend April also makes amazing Irish Soda Bread.

Like I said, YAY for friends!

But April doesn’t live in Montana. So she shared her recipe with me nearly two years ago and all my Irish soda bread cravings were abated. This is easy and delicious and I bet you will love it as much as we do.

Also … yes, there’s white flour and brown sugar in this recipe. We make sourdough or long-rise bread for daily consumption, but this is a “memory” food for me, and I don’t want to mess with the recipe since it’s something we enjoy only a few times a year.

irish soda bread

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz white flour/bread flour*
  • 6 oz whole wheat flour
  • 1 oz rolled oats (whiz them up if they are big)
  • 1 oz wheat germ (I used 1 oz ground flax seed because I didn’t have wheat germ)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • a little less than ½ TBLS cream of tartar
  • 1 TBLS baking soda
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar (preferably dark brown)
  • 22 oz plain unsweetened kefir (I used 2 1/4 cups of plain whole milk yogurt)
  • for the BOTTOM of the pan – 1 small handful of rolled oats
  • for the TOP – 3 TBLS of seeds of your choice (1 TBLS of each: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  While preheating, put in a cast iron dutch oven that’s been rubbed with Olive Oil. (Or, if you’re like me and don’t generally cook with Olive Oil, try Avocado Oil.) The dutch oven (with the top on) should be in while preheating the entire time.

Mix everything in order with a wooden spoon, except the kefir (yogurt).  Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add the kefir (yogurt).  Stir until combined.  The dough will be sticky.  Don’t over mix.

Take out the preheated skillet.  Sprinkle more rolled oats on the bottom of the pan.  You don’t need to cover the bottom, just sprinkle a small handful.  Pour the dough into the pan, and you should hear a sizzle.  Make sure the dough is touching all sides of the pan.  Top with combination of three or four of the following (I used pumpkin, chia, sesame and a few more rolled oats): pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, etc. Cover.

IMG_4294

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 20 minutes**.  The crust should be browned and solid.  Take the bread out of the pan to cool.

Makes ONE loaf.

irish soda bread 2

Everyone together now: “THANK YOU, APRIL!”

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

xo,

Jeanne

* at our high altitude in Bozeman, I add an extra quarter cup of bread flour
** also at our altitude, I bake for 35 minutes, but am leaving April’s recipe the way she makes it because so many of our readers don’t live at this altitude!

super veggie-packed oven baked meatballs

IMG_4126
Dinnertime view from our Vancouver rental on the 33rd floor. A new perspective for the littles and a new appreciation for me for families raising kiddos in a super-city environment.

Sometimes the kiddos will ask for veggie stir fry for dinner.

Sometimes our little girl will beg for a red pepper for a snack.

Sometimes the little guy will demand a salad.

Sometimes.

But they are kids.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes getting them to eat veggies is a challenge. Or at least it was a challenge. Until I figured out that they will eat almost any vegetable if it’s inside a meatball.

Broccoli. Carrots. Peppers. Cilantro. Parsley. Kale. Spinach. Bok choy.

If it’s in there, they will eat it.

So when we’ve had “one of those days,” I take whatever veggies I have on hand, chop them fine (use a food processor if you want it super tiny) and toss them in a big glass mixing bowl with a pound of beef, an egg, some bread crumbs (or cooked quinoa), onion and garlic and we’re good to go. Actually, it’s enough meatballs to feed us for two or three meals. So after dinner I freeze the leftovers for crockpot usage at a later date.

IMG_4137
See the strange “orange” tint to this photo? It’s not a filter. No. It’s the light in our rental kitchen. SEVENTEEN pictures of one plate later (kids were done eating by the time I took this one), I thought there might be a revolt.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of ground beef (preferably grassfed organic)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs (a paleo option is 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or 1/4 cup of almond flour)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese (could substitute with Parmesan)
  • 1/2 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup broccoli* (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro* (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt & pepper

*Broccoli and Cilantro can be replaced with carrots, bok choy, red or green peppers, spinach, kale, parsley, green beans, asparagus, mushrooms, etc. Whatever veggies you have handy.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With about a teaspoon of sesame oil (or your favorite cooking oil), lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine egg and bread crumbs. Add the meat, cheese, onion, garlic, veggies, salt & pepper. With clean hands, mix it all together until it’s evenly blended. Form into 2-inch meatballs. Twelve meatballs fit in the pan, so I bake them in two batches. I usually salt the meatballs with a pinch more after they are in the pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. (If you make smaller meatballs, they won’t need 20 minutes.)

Makes 24 2-inch meatballs.

Serve with pasta or over quinoa or on their own. Slather them in sauce or gravy or leave ’em plain. And feel happy that the fam is eating their leafy greens!

with love from Vancouver,
J

3 ingredient Asian-Kale Salad

untitled (1 of 1)-4This salad is a direct result of a great sale on organic kale from the co-op, an abundance of oranges and an impulse salad dressing buy.  A happy accident I suppose you could say.

Jeanne and I have both talked before how we never buy salad dressings anymore, and it was out of character for me when I threw this in my shopping cart:

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 6.56.35 PM

I’m a sucker for all things Bragg, and it’s not the first time I fell for one of their products. Once I got home I realized it most likely tastes similar to Jeanne’s dressing on this salad, but you can find it at most grocery stores or on Amazon here.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 oranges
  • 3 tablespoons Bragg’s Ginger and Sesame dressing
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds (optional, just adds a little crunch and color)

Wash and dry kale.  Once clean, finely chop.  Kale can be a tough green, so the smaller the chop, the more enjoyable the salad.

Slice oranges into bite size pieces.

Mix kale and oranges together, and add in dressing.  Mix well.

Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top before serving.

Can I get an amen for easy, tasty side salads?

 

garlicky garlic baked chicken

Jeanne here.

The Cowboy (aka my husband) has been working in Canada for a few weeks, and the littles and I were finally able to make the drive to meet up with him just a few days ago at his sublet apartment in Vancouver, BC.

A word about Vancouver: holy COW is it expensive! But that’s not news. It was reported last week to be the most expensive North American city for living. And I believe it. $11 to park in public parking lots. $7 for one package of wipes because I accidentally left our wipes at the apartment and really needed them but didn’t have an extra 30 minutes to drive home to get them. $40 for lunch for one adult and two toddlers at a pizza joint near the Cowboy’s office. Crazy.

And we’re deep in the heart of downtown. Skyscrapers. Asphalt Jungle. Coffee shops on every corner. Hot dog carts and soft pretzels on every other. Rear Window living as no one closes their shades on the 33rd floor of a high-rise. Aquariums. Art galleries. Science World. Museums. And it never gets dark. The lights from all the buildings keep the rooms lit almost to dusk even at 2 am.

I’m amazed at how amazed I am.

I mean, I lived in Los Angeles for 16 years. And before that, I lived in Washington, DC. I’ve worked on movies in San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit and Albuquerque, and spent a lot of time in New York and London, so it’s not like I’ve never experienced city living. I’ve only been in Montana for 4 years. Well. Almost 4 years. It’ll be 4 years in June. But I’ve come to really like seeing stars at night. And not hearing the constant hum of cars. And sirens. I guess I’ve really done it. I’ve gone Montana.

I could wax-nostalgic for hours but what I really wanted to say is that we are here for two weeks and I don’t want to eat out for every meal. I also don’t want to stock a second kitchen like ours at home so I’ve been making simple foods and it turns out that the kids and the Cowboy are pretty happy about it.

A few nights ago, for example, I made this:

image 4

Looks a little boring, right? Baked chicken and a salad.

But I’ll tell you something: It’s five ingredients. 20 minutes. And it’s flavorful and made for four happy eaters. So happy, in fact, that I made it again a few nights later.

Garlicky Garlic Baked Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbls sesame oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (rough chopped)
  • 3 Tbls grade B maple syrup
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Patting the chicken dry seems to help ensure moist chicken. One day I’ll figure out the science of it. But in the meantime, I highly recommend patting it dry. Set in a non-reactive roasting pan and season the chicken with salt and pepper. (We use glass or ceramic. I’m happy to say that the owner of this apartment left one glass baking dish.)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and sauté until translucent. Remove from the heat and add the maple syrup. Pour the mixture evenly over the chicken. I lift each chicken breast to let the mixture get under the meat as well.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the maple syrup gets all frothy and the liquid from the chicken runs clear.

image 5

Remove from the oven. Let stand for 2-3 minutes while you plate your side dish (we had a mixed green salad with pink lady apples and a balsamic honey mustard dressing). Slice and serve.

What do you feed your family when you’re on an extended trip that’s not really a vacation?

stone soup – a perfect winter supper

Do you remember that children’s tale of The Stone Soup?

stone soup

A tired and hungry old man arrives in town and removes a special stone from his satchel and then starts reminiscing about stone soup with onions … and salt beef … and cabbage … and mushrooms … and the list goes on and on. By the end, he “magically” (with the help of the entire town) creates a most delicious and nourishing soup.

It’s a beautiful story. And a great lesson about the benefits of working together and a wonderful example about how everyone has something to contribute.

Last week, we were prepping to leave for a two to three week road trip to visit my husband while he’s working in Canada. We had more than a few veggies left in the fridge I knew would go bad if we just left them there. So, with two helpful sets of little hands, we set out to make our own Stone Soup.

It was so good we ate it for dinner, and then dinner the next night, and then (at their request) the kids ate it for breakfast before we left for skiing on Thursday!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tbls sesame or sunflower oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/4 c. leftover tomato sauce
  • 7 c. broth (bone or vegetable or water)
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 small-medium carrots (chopped)
  • 1 medium sweet potato (chopped)
  • 1 – 2 stalks of bok choy (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 c. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 c. green beans (cut in thirds)
  • 2 c. leftover cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • Sea salt & pepper (to taste)
  • no stone required

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a dutch oven and sauté chopped onion until translucent. Ad celery and garlic. Then add tomato sauce, rosemary and thyme and broth or water. Bring to a boil then lower temperature to simmer and add carrots, sweet potato, bok choy, tomatoes, green beans. Add salt and a dash of pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  About 10 minutes before serving, add leftover rice.

This is sure to warm you on these cold winter nights (or mornings).

NOTE: A traditional stone soup might also have a salted beef or leftover meat of your choice. 

Find us also at:
Pinworthy Projects @ The Domestic Superhero

almond milk – for when the cows stop giving it up

I just found out that the cow from whom we get our milk is pregnant!!! Very pregnant, apparently. So she’s starting to wean her other baby. And not really producing much milk anymore. And unlike at factory farms where they might induce lactation with chemicals or medication, our family farmer wants to make sure our little lady is healthy and restored and ready for the task at hand (giving birth and caring for her new calf). So no more milk for us at least until May.

It’s a nice coincidence for me that this falls right in the middle of that cleanse I was telling you about, as I’ve given up dairy for the short term. I haven’t, however, given up tea and coffee. And I like a little milk in my soaked oatmeal or millet breakfasts. I’m still making sourdough pancakes a few mornings a week for the kiddos. And the kids love their granola.

So while Twyla (the cow) isn’t lactating, we still need a little milk in the house.

Enter almond milk.

image 3

Which I know I can buy in a carton.

But I have a yoga-teacher friend who made fresh almond milk while I was sitting at her table one afternoon during a playdate between her son and our daughter. It looked super easy. Took next to no time at all. It was frothy, creamy and oh-my-GOOD-delicious. And I’ve not been able to enjoy the carton-version since.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 6 pitted Medjool dates (optional)
  • 1 pinch sea salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

First things first, soak the almonds overnight (up to 48 hours, but change the water every 18-24 hours) in a non-reactive container like a glass mason jar. The longer you soak, the thicker the milk will be. I’m pretty satisfied with the consistency of the milk around 18 hours.

photo 4

Rinse the almonds and put them in the container of a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix or Blendtec) or food processor. Add the water, dates and sea salt. Puree until pulverized and you’re left with a frothy, creamy mixture.

Strain the almonds through a cheese cloth and a fine mesh strainer into a medium sized bowl. (If I don’t have cheese cloth, I’ve also just strained them through a fine mesh strainer and been content.) Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to four days. (Note, if you don’t use it right away, you’ll want to shake it up after it sits in the fridge for a bit as it will separate.)

Makes a little more than 2 cups of creamy sweet almond milk.

NOTE: I generally make only two cups at a time because it’s so delicious fresh. Also, I add the dates because I like the subtle sweetness they add to the milk. The dates are optional. No need to add dates if you don’t want them. And lastly, I only remember to add the salt about half the time. The difference is pretty subtle, but adding the salt will keep the milk fresh in the fridge for an extra few days, I think.

 Find us also at:
Pinworthy Projects @ The Domestic Superhero

even real foodies need a cleanse once in a while (aka a delicious cabbage & cashew salad)

cabbage&cashew salad

Jeanne here.

Even though I’m 14 years into this ‘real food’ thing, I still feel like I need to “clean it up” a few times a year.

I cut out dairy. Meat, fish and poultry. Wheat. Alcohol. And tomatoes (they are really acidic, and at this time of year, they are just not locally available in Montana anyway).

What else is there, you ask???

I eat a lot of sautéed or roasted veggies. Baked sweet potatoes. A lot of big salads with kale and spinach and chard and butter lettuce and cabbage and avocados and blanched green beans. Soup. Quinoa. Brown rice. Soaked oats and millet. Apples. Berries. Bananas.

Sounds boring, right?

I know.

But honestly, I’m surprised every time about how much I love the food during a cleanse.  It takes me about two days of eating bland clean food to remember that just because I’m on a cleanse doesn’t mean I can’t have food I love. I remember that I’ve got turmeric in the cupboard. And cardamom. And cloves. Ginger. Black pepper. Toasted sesame oil. Rice wine vinegar.

And it only lasts about 10 days, unless I’m feeling really ambitious and strive for 40!

So for my next few posts, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite “cleanse” recipes.

Like this cabbage, celery and cashew salad with an Asian inspired toasted sesame dressing.

photo 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head of cabbage (shredded or chopped to bite-size bits)
  • 3 stalks of celery (thinly sliced on the bias)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3 scallions (chopped)

for the dressing

  • 2 Tbls toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbls rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbls liquid aminos (or soy sauce or coconut aminos)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 Tbls sesame seeds

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Add all the dressing ingredients to a small mason jar.  Shake to combine.

photo 3

Pour over the salad and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, or let it stand in the dressing for up to an hour.

Do you know the happy dance? Because you might want to learn it so you can celebrate this simple and simply delicious salad.

PS – I use this dressing all the time. Not just on cabbage. It’s wonderful on a kale salad. Or with a delicate lettuce like watercress. Or on butter lettuce. It’s just plain tasty.

Find us also at:
Pinworthy Projects @ The Domestic Superhero