Feb. 20, 2015

Healing chicken bone broth; An essential when you are looking at healing your gut either during a reboot or after a course of antibiotics. Or maybe just because you feel like sipping a delicious chicken bone broth.

Everything you need to prepare chicken bone broth  

Everything you need to prepare chicken bone broth

 

Organic chicken, leeks, onions, carrots, fresh garlic, fresh Italian parsley, fresh thyme (or dried), fresh bay leaves (or dried), peppercorns, Braggs apple cider vinegar.

closeupchickenbonebroth.jpg
applecidervinegar.jpg

Adding a splash of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar to the pot before the chicken joins the group.

inthepot.jpg
addingwater.jpg

Add enough water to cover the entire contents.

swimminginthepot.jpg
skimming.jpg

Bring it to a boil, take it down to a simmer and simmer for an hour, skimming off any foam that forms on the top. Remove the chicken and allow the broth to simmer another hour or two. You can pick the meat from the bones and use the meat for another dish. Or package and freeze for another day.

straining.jpg

Pour the contents through a strainer into a bowl large enough to accommodate the broth.

finishedbroth.jpg

And here you have it, home made chicken broth. I usually chill it for a few hours and skim any fat off the top. Store the broth in a tightly sealed container to be used in other homemade soups or sip a cup of it each day to heal your gut. If you don't need all of it within a few days, freeze in small containers to be used later.

 

Feb. 24, 2015

What's for dinner?

How many times have we asked ourselves that, pushed to conjure up something tasty, quick and enjoyable for the entire family? Even I, someone trained in the culinary arts, gets tired of making meals day after day after day after...oops sorry, I got caught up in that.

 

This afternoon I asked myself the same question, but this time I had something to base the meal on - a lovely piece of wild-caught Black Cod that I bought at Georgetown Market. I had no idea what I would produce with that piece of cod but figured I would come up with something. And I did, using the Clean Eats cookbook, looking at the 'Gut' recipes. Granted, this recipe would be delicious with any wild-caught cod or maybe sea bass or another 'meaty' white fish.

 

One of the reasons it is so easy to come up with quick meals is the 'staples' in my fridge and pantry. The recipe is simple using several of my 'always-have-on-hand' items - fresh lemons, Italian parsley, raw sprouted almonds, red onion, fresh garlic, and olive oil. Took only 10 minutes to prepare, another 15 minutes in the oven and dinner is ready to be served. Since it's a 'gut' recipe, I didn't need to pare it with a grain this time. Served on a bed of fresh baby spinach leaves (also a staple in this household) with the lovely juices drizzled over the top. And the beauty of this recipe is that it would also allow me to prep it the night before (with the fish in its frozen state in the covered oven dish in the fridge, ready to pop it in the oven once I got home the following evening. Twelve to fifteen minutes in the oven just about leaves me enough time to set the table, prep my dishes with the fresh baby spinach leaves and....wow, dinner is ready!

 

And that's what's for dinner this evening.

Wild-caught black cod with an almond gremolata


March 31, 2015

Making your own nut or seed milk

It's really not difficult to make your own nut milk ( ie. almond or cashew) or seed milk (ie. hemp or flax). It requires a couple of kitchen tools like a blender, something to use to strain your homemade milk through and a large measuring vessel. That's it. Ingredients? Nuts, of course. Preferably the raw kind, not roasted. Water. And then some flavorings like vanilla, cinnamon. If you are have chosen to go the unsweetened route, that's all you need. But you can add one more ingredient, if you aren't doing a cleanse (which means food choices that close the door on a few foods during the cleanse like sugar) you can add a pitted date in the milk as a sweetener. Dates are a good natural source for sweetening foods. More about dates at the end of this.

 

  A simple list of ingredients here - nuts of your choice which could be one type of nut (almond, walnut, brazil, cashew, pecan) or a combination of nuts. You can also mix in some raw pumpkin, sunflower, flax or hemp seeds. Coconut flakes can be added into your nut milk as well. Use the large flakes or actual coconut meat. Experiment with different combinations. Measuring cup, large container to filter the nut milk into, a form of filtering whether it be a fine mesh sieve, a nut milk filter or a piece of kitchen muslim and an elastic band, and of course a blender. Seasonings - vanilla. You can also add other seasonings of your choice like cinnamon.

 

A simple list of ingredients here - nuts of your choice which could be one type of nut (almond, walnut, brazil, cashew, pecan) or a combination of nuts. You can also mix in some raw pumpkin, sunflower, flax or hemp seeds. Coconut flakes can be added into your nut milk as well. Use the large flakes or actual coconut meat. Experiment with different combinations.

Measuring cup, large container to filter the nut milk into, a form of filtering whether it be a fine mesh sieve, a nut milk filter or a piece of kitchen muslim and an elastic band, and of course a blender.

Seasonings - vanilla. You can also add other seasonings of your choice like cinnamon.

  You start by soaking a cup of raw almonds in 3 cups of water for 6-8 hours, keeping the container in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make the nut milk, discard the soaking water and rinse the almonds well. The soaking process removes a natural occurring layer on the outside of the nuts that, if eating without removing, hinders your body from absorbing all the goodness those nuts have to offer. It's not the end of the world if you don't soak your nuts but why not get all the benefits instead of just some?  

 

You start by soaking a cup of raw almonds in 3 cups of water for 6-8 hours, keeping the container in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make the nut milk, discard the soaking water and rinse the almonds well. The soaking process removes a natural occurring layer on the outside of the nuts that, if eating without removing, hinders your body from absorbing all the goodness those nuts have to offer. It's not the end of the world if you don't soak your nuts but why not get all the benefits instead of just some?

 

  Once the soaked almonds have been rinsed, pop them in the blender with a fresh 3 cups of water. That's it. Not too difficult so far, is it?

 

Once the soaked almonds have been rinsed, pop them in the blender with a fresh 3 cups of water. That's it. Not too difficult so far, is it?

  Making sure the lid to the blender is on securely, turn it on and give it a few minutes to really work the mixture together.

 

Making sure the lid to the blender is on securely, turn it on and give it a few minutes to really work the mixture together.

 
  Filtering the mixture can be as simple as not filtering it, which you can do. If you find yourself using the nut milk for smoothies, it doesn't have to be filtered. If you want to use it as a milk on its own, this is when the filtering comes into play. There are several ways to filter this liquid - using a fine mesh sieve like this one, using a purchased nut milk bag, or using a piece of kitchen muslim with a rubber band/elastic.hisT

 

Filtering the mixture can be as simple as not filtering it, which you can do. If you find yourself using the nut milk for smoothies, it doesn't have to be filtered. If you want to use it as a milk on its own, this is when the filtering comes into play. There are several ways to filter this liquid - using a fine mesh sieve like this one, using a purchased nut milk bag, or using a piece of kitchen muslim with a rubber band/elastic.hisT

  Now that all the liquid has been poured through the fine mesh sieve it's time to let the sieve do its work.

 

Now that all the liquid has been poured through the fine mesh sieve it's time to let the sieve do its work.

  Not wanting to waste all of this, I grab a soup spoon and push the mixture against the mesh, pushing as much liquid as possible through into the container below.

 

Not wanting to waste all of this, I grab a soup spoon and push the mixture against the mesh, pushing as much liquid as possible through into the container below.

  Another filter option is the nut milk bag (or the kitchen muslim as they work in the same manner). Finding a container that allows the edge of bag to fold over to the base, pour the liquid through, making sure your container is big enough to hold all the liquid. As you may have noticed, I try to use the same receptacle. Cuts down on washing up which I appreciate.

 

Another filter option is the nut milk bag (or the kitchen muslim as they work in the same manner). Finding a container that allows the edge of bag to fold over to the base, pour the liquid through, making sure your container is big enough to hold all the liquid. As you may have noticed, I try to use the same receptacle. Cuts down on washing up which I appreciate.

  Once the nut milk mixture has been poured into the container though the nut milk bag (or kitchen muslin), pull the ends of the bag (or muslin) together and allow the mixture to filter through. Gently squeeze, bringing your hand closer to the mixture in the bag as you go. A reference to milking a cow or goat could be made here but I won't.:-)

 

Once the nut milk mixture has been poured into the container though the nut milk bag (or kitchen muslin), pull the ends of the bag (or muslin) together and allow the mixture to filter through. Gently squeeze, bringing your hand closer to the mixture in the bag as you go. A reference to milking a cow or goat could be made here but I won't.:-)

  What's left in the bag after all liquid has been gently squeezed out is the almond pulp. Don't throw it away!

 

What's left in the bag after all liquid has been gently squeezed out is the almond pulp.

Don't throw it away!

  On the baking sheet, you have both pulps left over from filtering the almonds. The one on the right is from the simple mesh sieve. On the left is the pulp left over after using the nut milk filter bag. If you used a piece of muslim, the remaining pulp would look similar to this. Both are good. One has more moisture in it which means a little less milk in your blender. I usually pop the pulp in the oven at its lowest temperature (unless your oven can dehydrate) and leave it in there until the pulp has dried. Ready to be used in baked goods, mixed into my breakfast bowl, sprinkle on salads, or shared with our dogs. No waste here.

 

On the baking sheet, you have both pulps left over from filtering the almonds. The one on the right is from the simple mesh sieve. On the left is the pulp left over after using the nut milk filter bag. If you used a piece of muslim, the remaining pulp would look similar to this. Both are good. One has more moisture in it which means a little less milk in your blender. I usually pop the pulp in the oven at its lowest temperature (unless your oven can dehydrate) and leave it in there until the pulp has dried. Ready to be used in baked goods, mixed into my breakfast bowl, sprinkle on salads, or shared with our dogs. No waste here.

  In our nut milk, I added some vanilla bean powder and a little ground cinnamon. You can add other seasonings but I like to keep this as my base and add to it when I use it in recipes. It's at this point that you could add a pitted date for a sweet factor, though you don't have to. Give it all a whirl one more time in the blender to mix it all together.

 

In our nut milk, I added some vanilla bean powder and a little ground cinnamon. You can add other seasonings but I like to keep this as my base and add to it when I use it in recipes.

It's at this point that you could add a pitted date for a sweet factor, though you don't have to. Give it all a whirl one more time in the blender to mix it all together.

  The results of taking a few simple ingredients, spending a short amount of time in the kitchen - homemade nut milk. Keep it in an airtight container, pop it in the fridge and enjoy for the next few days.  

 

The results of taking a few simple ingredients, spending a short amount of time in the kitchen - homemade nut milk. Keep it in an airtight container, pop it in the fridge and enjoy for the next few days.

 


July 16, 2015 - "May the Force be with you" - the positive energy force, that is.

When I'm teaching cooking classes, I speak of the 'energy' used in the shopping/preparing/eating of our nutritionally-dense foods. And it's often more pleasurable doing all of these things in the company of like-minded friends/family. But what if you don't have that group around you all the time? How do you makes those moments count when you are on your own? First, meal planning can be at a moment of your choosing with a mug of calming tea in front of you and your favorite music playing in the background...or sitting outside enjoying the summer weather.....or wherever, of YOUR choosing. Having cook books that are visually pleasing also starts you out in a positive direction as you look forward to the moment. (I'm a fan of beautiful cookbooks that keep the recipes simple in their ingredients as well as their step-by-step instructions). Check out the reference section for favorite books of mine. 

Second, try to pick a time/place that enhances that shopping experience. If you can, chose to shop at places where the experience has the potential for being a pleasant one. Shopping in a big box store may not be as favorable as heading to the farmer's market or a local natural food store. There are several go-to sources for buying organic/local and keeping within your budget, thus eliminating the lure of those discounted items the big box stores use to get you in their doors. And you have the benefit of only buying what you need if you shop the bulk section. If you have found that doing your grocery shopping during the lunch hour just works out better for you (ie more time, more energy), take along an insulated bin with cold packs in them to keep those purchases cool until you can get home. I keep a stash of ice in sealed pouches in my freezer at home so that I'm always ready. If they melt by the time I get back home, it doesn't really matter since I pop them back in the freezer for the next time.

Third, use imagery to guide yourself through the store, staying focused on the task at hand. I tend to write out my list according to the lay-out of the store, as this helps me optimize my shopping time. Yes, walking 10,000 steps a day is wonderful, but does it have to happen during my grocery shopping when I end up going back and forth because of how I wrote out the list? I prefer to do that in a place/at a time of my choosing.

Once back home, putting those lovingly chosen ingredients away in the proper way is equally important. A well-organized pantry, refrigerator, and freezer keep the guesswork out of your kitchen. That way, when it's time to make your grocery list again, you will have a proper overview of what you have which will save you time and money.

The next section, Keeping it Positive in your Kitchen, will follow soon.