Borscht, Vegetarian Style, w/Beets, Cabbage, Potato

Authentic Borscht recipes might use rye flour to thicken the soup, or might include “Kwas” (a fermented rye brew). For those used to fermenting foods, it’s nothing too tricky; after rye flour and water ferments for a few days, the water’s poured off. The water gets fermented some more, which gives the soup its twang.

Bowl of Bright Red Russian Soup

Beets and other veggies make this a colorful, flavorful vegetarian-style borscht recipe. A touch of sauerkraut, Kwas, or other fermented veggies will add a little zip, but a dash of vinegar would sub in a pinch.

Never heard of Kwas? It can be likened to a beer of sorts. A rye flour (or rye bread) and water mixture ferments for days; the water is poured off to ferment some more. An already-brewed Kwas might be found at some specialty markets, but the soup is quite good without it.

Some authentic Borscht recipes also call for homemade sauerkraut, but many prefer the milder, less tangy recipe below. If the tang of sauerkraut is desired, homemade is fairly easy to make, and is completely different from canned sauerkraut. To make it, slice up a cabbage, sprinkle it well with salt, and let it juice up for an hour or so. Put it into a jar, keeping the cabbage weighted down with a plate, so it is submerged in its juices. Pounding it down helps it to juice up that much more and won’t hurt it! Let it sit in a crock, jar, or other glass or ceramic container, at room temperature. Refrigerate after five days or so; it turns into authentic, naturally fermented sauerkraut, which many claim is a healthful food full of beneficial probiotics.

Beef broth and/or chunks of beef can be added as well, for a heartier soup with even more flavor. Serves 4-6.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium-sized beets
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 c. or so slivered cabbage
  • 1 TBS. rye flour (or substitute white flour)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. toasted caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • Optional: sauerkraut, beef, and/or beef stock

PREPARATION

1. Bake an hour or more (depending on size), at 375 degrees, wrapped in foil, until tender: > 2 medium-sized beets

2. After beets cool, prepare by skinning and julienning. Set aside.

3. Peel, then cook in water to cover, until tender: > 2 potatoes, cubed > 1-2 carrots, sliced

4. Grill in olive oil: > 1 c. or so slivered cabbage

5. In medium-large pot, add grilled, tender cabbage, and: > 1 TBS. rye flour (or substitute white flour)

6. To the roux of flour and oil, add liquid slowly, mixing until smooth, bringing the mixture to a boil: > Vegetable broth from cooking the veggies, plus more water if necessary

7. After cooking roux/broth mixture for 2 minutes or so, add all ingredients to the pot: > The cooked cabbage/broth > The cooked potato/carrots > The julienned beets > salt to taste > 1/4 tsp. toasted caraway seeds > 2 tsp. white vinegar (or substitute sauerkraut > beef chunks and/or beef stock, if desired

Serve topped with sour cream and dill weed.

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Carrot Soup w/Dill: Nutritious, Delicious!

You can still order my ebook, SOUP’S ON! But if you want a “peak” at recipes, I’ve posted the following…

Caraway seeds are often added to rye bread, but are a fun flavor to season this dish with too. Potatoes tone down the sweet carrots; colorful red quinoa makes a good garnish. Serves 6-8.

Carrot Soup garnished w/ Dill Weed, Quinoa

INGREDIENTS

2 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped into discs

2 lb. potatoes, peeled, cubed

1/4 c. virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. caraway seed

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dill weed

Black pepper

Optional: Cooked quinoa and chopped green onions for garnish

PREPARATION

1. Give carrots a head start cooking, as they take a bit longer than potatoes. Simmer about 20 minutes: > 2 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped into discs > boiling water to cover

2. Set 1 c. or so of the cooked carrots aside, if desired. These can be added back into the pureed soup; the slices of carrot will add texture to the otherwise creamy soup.

3. To the remaining cooked carrots in the pot, add and cook until potatoes are tender: > 2 lb. potatoes, peeled, cubed

4. Process the potato/carrot mixture until smooth, using immersion blender or food processor. If using food processor, process lightly, so the potato starch doesn’t get overdeveloped (making the consistency gummy.) To the pureed mixture, blend in: > 1/4 c. virgin olive oil

5. To5ast: > 1/2 tsp. caraway seed

6. Put all ingredients into pot: > Pureed potato/carrot/oil mix > toasted caraway seed > 1 1/2 tsp. salt > 1/2 tsp. dill weed > black pepper > reserved cooked, sliced carrots (optional: “caramelize” the sliced carrots by grilling first, which develops their sweetness)

7. Reheat soup; garnish with: > Cooked red quinoa (optional) > chopped green onions

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The Phytate-Sphere: Soak Grains, Eat “Sensibly”, Don’t Worry

Foods High In PhytatesBran is not  as trendy as it was ten or twenty years ago. I remember the days- we used to stop by our favorite bakery and consume mass quantities of sugary, sweet bran muffins (probably loaded with unhealthy oils too). I was having a bran fest- I even added raw bran flakes to my cereal. All in the name of “FIBER”!

Was it any wonder that I had some serious anemia? Bran is particularly rich in phytates, which can bind with the iron and other minerals in our system, which can lead to that anemia. Who knows what other health issues might have been connected to my “bran diet”?!

Bran is quite high in phytates; phytates can also be found (in lesser quantities) in grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.  So I’m not a bran fiend anymore. And I do try to soak my grains. Or I ferment them–I’ve really been into homemade, whole-grain sourdough bread lately. (Now that I have a Vitamix that grinds my whole wheat berries into  fresh whole wheat flour…)

Not that I’m not going on a Phytate Rant here. Phytates can be good. Consuming them in our foods probably isn’t going to upset the average person’s health. One caveat: but it might.

Just as in the bran days of yore, any one food trend might lead to unbalance, as the misinformed attempt to overcompensate, adding too much of a good thing to their diets. One of the latest trends is the “Gluten-free” craze (and the GAPS diet). One catch: folks might start chowing down on that gluten-free cake, made with almond meal instead of flour, on a fairly regular basis, telling themselves that this will help them to avoid gluten and regain health. The cost might be a phytate overload…

That was me. After bran went out of style, I forgot about it and prided myself instead on eating “healthy” breakfasts of raw, soaked grains topped with nuts, cacao nibs, and coconut. Another vegetarian meal or two might follow, featuring beans and/or grains. A snack or dessert might include a treat high in cacao nibs and nuts. Ironically, that particular diet of “wholesome” whole foods might have been slightly unbalanced. (Ya think?!)

Not to sound the alarm. There is a plus side to ingesting those phytates. Yes, they are enzyme inhibitors, but also: They can bind to excess minerals in our system. This is a valuable service, considering that excess iron generates free radicals in our bodies. So, while excess phytates might be a problem for an anemic person (like I’m prone to be), they would help someone else who was prone to an excess of iron.

Also, phytates act as antioxidants. They can even fight the proliferation of cancer cells, and improve cardiovascular health. One other feature: They might lower a food’s glycemic load, for the very reason that they slow digestion.

In conclusion: Moderation is our friend. We might consider reducing a potential overload of phytates by soaking some of our grains, beans, seeds and nuts (this will break down phytates, allowing for easier digestion). We might make bread (the yeast/fermentation process decreases phytates), and we might toast some grains, seeds (which also decreases them).

But, unless you’re going off the deep end (like I’ve often done), you can probably just adhere to this simple rule: Eat a sensible diet, be aware of the danger of raw nuts, grains, and seeds consumed in excess, and then… don’t worry about it!

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“AuTHUR” Thursday: KDP UNselect

I was so excited to finally get my ebook out on Amazon. And it was real, real exciting that, in the first five days of offering free downloads, the book shot to #58 in the Kindle free books category. Almost seven thousand downloads. I guess when things are free, folks respond!

After publishing the book, I opted into Amazon’s KDP Select program. But… that prohibits ANY duplicate content, even on my own website. So I had to pull duplicate content off the world wide web. Even though I’m the author, I couldn’t even post the recipes on my website.

I finally removed my book from that program, so now I CAN post all those recipes here. They’re still in the “Soup’s On, Made From Scratch” cookbook, but they’re here too. Yay!

Author Jennifer CoteMeanwhile, the ebook was NOT flying off any shelf. In the virtual book publishing world (ebooks, that is), it won’t collect any dust. But it might disappear into oblivion! Ah, the problem with the glut of writings in this information age, right?

Maybe the book could sell if I devoted more time to marketing. But, like many authors, I’m not as into marketing as I am into creating a book. I have a “real” job, and it’s in the real world, at The New Deli, not in the virtual world!

I still occasionally dream of creating a book like the one I want for myself. What would that look like? It wouldn’t be digital, because I want a hard copy in my greasy little floured-up hands, to add notes to, to access when I’ve turned off my electronics. You know?!

That book would still have color photos, since it’s easier to be inspired to make something if you see an actual picture. (Not to mention, the photo can remind you of how the recipe’s supposed to look…) To make it available to others would be difficult though, since color printing still is pretty cost-prohibitive.

That book would also have ALL my fave recipes, in one place. I did publish a small version of that book (“From the Land of Milk and Honey“),  back in 2006, but I’ve developed a lot more recipes in the past ten years… I need to get those all organized!

Alas, all our hungry deli folks would probably rather that I just MAKE the stuff, and sell it to them, haha. So, for now, back to my real job :)

 

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An Index to What’s In “Soup’s On!”

Author Jennifer CoteBelow is an index to what’s found in my ebook, “Soup’s On, Made From Scratch”. These recipes can be found here at the website too, but if you want everything in one handy book, then order a copy! You can view ebooks on your computer, phone, Kindle, or tablet… pretty handy :)

Artichoke Garden Soup: Easiest soup ever?! I use Trader Joe’s frozen artichokes- they have a better texture than canned ones. (You can use fresh ones, if you have the time…) From there, you just add some steamed zucchini, some garlic, whirl it up in the blender with some chicken stock or cream.

Asparagus Soup with Tarragon and Goat Cheese: Cook up some asparagus (saving tips for garnish). A simple roux pulls this soup together.

Barley Mushroom Soup: A whole-grain, simple recipe; the tomato, rosemary, and garlic blend perfectly.

Black Bean Chili: A hearty vegetarian soup; a protein-rich, flavorful, simple recipe. It’s an extra thick mix (that you add water to to serve), so it freezes real well into portioned “blobs”. Makes such an easy last-minute dinner!

Borscht: A great way to use beets, in a healthy version of a Russian classic. Containing potatoes, carrot, and cabbage too, and some toasted caraway seed for authentic flavor.

Broccoli Potato Soup: An extra healthy soup recipe. Potatoes thicken it, so it doesn’t need flour (yay, gluten-free!). The broccoli is cooked in water; use that broth to cook the potatoes. Then, the broccoli gets processed (with immersion blender or food processor); the potatoes get processed in next. They don’t go in at the same time, since a little over-processing will turn those potatoes to glue!

Butternut Squash Soup: Using a simple method of cooking squash; pureed with apple juice and a simple spice mix for a quick, delicious, creamy soup, that’s still healthy!

Carrot Soup w/Dill: A gluten-free recipe flavored with caraway seed. A bit of cooked red quinoa adds the perfect garnish.

Carrot Soup, Curried: A gluten-free, flavorful soup using pureed carrot, potato, and coconut milk.

Cauliflower Soup: With garbanzo beans making it buttery, creamy. Roasting the cauliflower brings out its flavor, and toasted coriander seasons it perfectly.

Celery Leek Soup: With potatoes thickening this soup (no flour), it’s gluten-free. Celery seeds add a lot of celery flavor. Delicious!

Chicken Stock: Simple, but good. You don’t really have to put anything else in the pot, except some chicken bones (yumm, “bone broth”!). When using the stock in soups, other veggies, herbs and spices can be added then.

Chili, Traditional Style: Cook your own kidney beans! Much better texture than canned, plus you save money. And it’s a smaller carbon foot-print, since it’s easier to ship dry beans to your home, than to ship them to a processing plant that cooks them, plumps them full of water, and eventually gets them to a store…

Chipotle Potato Soup: There’s an easy way to make a “Chipotle Drizzle” (using dried chipotles, virgin olive oil, and a little boiling water and salt). Other canned chipotle products have a lot of cheap ingredients, and just a little chipotle in ‘em. Just get the dried peppers!

Cream of Chestnut Soup: This is a classy soup. It takes awhile to shuck chestnuts, but there is a method that makes it a little easier. A labor of love, but worth it.

Cream of Corn Soup w/Cashews and Cilantro: What an easy recipe. Cashews can get presoaked, but because they’re already a softer nut, they’ll blend up into a nice “cream”. Add frozen corn (thawed), cayenne, and some cilantro for garnish. This is a good gluten-free, vegan soup.

French Onion Soup: A classic recipe, using saved up, frozen meat drippings and stock for rich flavor, plus a unique “roux” using some red wine vinegar instead of the usual Vermouth. Tastes at least as good, and it’s more economical.

Golden Pepper Soup: It’s nice to take advantage of produce when it’s cheap and plentiful. to use at a later date in things like this soup. Roasting peppers is a way to preserve them, and it is really quite easy. At The New Deli, we used to do them under the broiler, but found that a piping hot iron pan was even easier. We add the peppers, put a lid on it (yes, we have an awesome, heavy iron lid, which I recommend). Then we turn them every six minutes or so until charred/blackish on all sides. From there, we can make stuff like this soup. Or save the roasted, peeled peppers in the freezer- they freeze perfectly.

Green Chili Cheese Soup: So easy- mostly just some potatoes, with some canned tomato pieces added. As mentioned in the above paragraph, green chilis are easy to roast at home (or “cheat” and use canned). A little toasted cumin seed and cilantro add extra flavor.

Lentil Soup: The New Deli’s “hippie-style” soup, from our vegetarian days. Lots of soups can be vegetarian, but of course the ones with legumes in them will offer more protein. A dash of liquid smoke and some chili powder make this a pretty exciting soup.

Mushroom Soup, Creamy Style: You can make this the traditional French way, by cooking down some pureed mushrooms until they are fairly dry. The French then even dehydrate them more, then grind them even finer. This is how a very hearty mushroom flavor is achieved without just having a pile o’ mushrooms in the bowl. My favorite way to make this soup now is to just buy some Porcini mushroom powder on Amazon, because… well, the other way is fairly labor intensive. The porcini powder is so worth it. And then, making this soup becomes a total breeze!

Potato Cheddar Soup: This soup is made with an economical (but good quality) cheddar, even though it tastes like it was made with a fancy smoked cheddar. How’s that? Just add a touch of liquid smoke- a perfect combination with the creamy potatoes…

Potato Swiss Soup: Using Swiss and blue cheese, plus Dijon mustard, nutmeg- a New Deli favorite

Red Lentil Soup: Popular for its quick-cooking, as well as its flavor; the sweet potatoes and curried spices add nutrition and an ethnic twist

Seafood Gumbo: Maybe part of the secret is in using shrimp with heads on (lil’ feelers and all). The heads made a great stock! This is a classic recipe, Cajun-style, made by heating and stirring the roux until dark and rich.

Split Pea Soup: a low-fat, vegetarian version of the classic.

Sweet Potato Autumn Veggie Soup: Cauliflower pairs up nicely with sweet potato, for a Paleo-style soup.

Thai Curried Rice Soup: It’s tricky for that Japanese eggplant to keep it’s color, but there’s a healthier way to do that, without deep-frying. Adding green curry paste makes it exciting, although regular ginger can sub for the “galangal”, and lemon zest might do in place of lemon grass. Still good!

Tomato Basil Soup, using a unique blend of lemon, orange, and bay leaf, mellowed out with the addition of cooked carrot

Tomato Soup with Dill: Creamy tomato soup with more seasoning; toasted fennel seed adds a nice touch.

Vegetable Rice Soup: Using a simple tomato paste/spice mix for a base (AKA “Thousand Island Mix“), just add veggies and rice, for a quick, easy soup.

White Bean Tomato Soup: Cook up some white beans from scratch- they don’t take much more than an hour. Add some canned tomato, some fresh rosemary and garlic. Oh, some kale goes nicely in this too!

Wild Rice Winter Squash Soup: Sometimes I need an excuse to cook up some wild rice- it’s so fragrant! For those with allergies, wild rice is of a completely different family than other grasses, so it’s usually a safe food in that respect. Good stuff.

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Banana Bread, Circa New Deli 1985

“WAY-BACK WEDNESDAY”: We used to make this recipe thirty-some years ago, when “The New Deli” was just a small wholesale sandwich business operating out of our home kitchen. We enjoyed many an end piece of this bread (as did our then-toddler son); we wrapped up buttered slices to ship out to health food stores in the Bay Area, under the name “Foods for Thought”. We were just a couple of hippies at the time, with a little “grass-roots”, home-style food business.

Three years into that, we realized we should become legit. And so The New Deli was birthed!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread of New Deli FameWe used to grind our own whole wheat flour to make goodies like this for our fledgling food business, back in the eighties. I loved that we were giving people a fresh-ground flour, complete with nutrients (vitamin E, etc.), that hadn’t gone rancid sitting on some store shelf.

When the flour grinder finally busted, I learned that I could sub a good organic unbleached flour for the whole wheat flour. Using a small electric coffee/spice grinder, I could add fresh-ground flax seed, and we could still get those good essential oils in the mix. With a bit of bran added as well, it seemed we had the next-best-thing to fresh-ground flour!

This recipe was always popular, putting ripe bananas to good use. Ripe bananas can even store in the refrigerator for up to a week, until one is ready to make this recipe. Makes 2 8″ loaves.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. brown sugar or palm sugar
  • Slightly rounded 2 TBS. molasses
  • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour (3/4 lb.)*
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c. mashed, ripe bananas (about 4-5 ripe bananas; over a lb. to start)
  • 2 eggs
  • Optional: 2 TBS. flax seed, ground into meal in small coffee/spice grinder

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil 8″ bread pan.

2. Toast in oven 8-10 minutes until golden: > 1 3/4 c. walnuts

3. Into a mixer bowl, blend together: > 1 c. brown sugar > slightly rounded 2 TBS. molasses > 2 1/4 c. fresh-ground wheat flour > 1/2 tsp. salt > 1 tsp. baking soda > optional: 2 TBS. flax seed, ground into meal in small coffee/spice grinder

4. Set the above mix aside. In separate bowl, use a potato masher to “puree” the banana, or process lightly in blender until medium-smooth: > 1 1/2 c. mashed, ripe bananas (about 4-5 ripe bananas; over a pound to start)

5. Stir into the mashed banana: > 2 eggs

6. To the bowl of banana and egg, add and mix in gently (not over-mixing): > The sugar/flour mixture > The toasted walnuts

7. Pour batter into pan, bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick in center comes out clean. Let rest 20 minutes or so before removing from pan and serving.

* Fresh-ground flour is preferred, as whole wheat flour will otherwise go rancid in less than a week. But use these amounts to sub for the 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour, if necessary: > 1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour > 1/3 c. wheat bran > 2 TBS. flax seed, ground into meal in small coffee/spice grinder

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Jen’s Top Six Chocoholic Recipes

Here we go- a bunch of chocolate recipes of one category or another: Either EASY, or HEALTHY, or JUST DELICIOUS, or all three!

We’re all pretty busy, right? I mean, who even has time to read all the messages in our inbox?! Or to research which “Valentine’s Day Recipes” to try, in the many articles all over the web right now, in any cooking section?!

So let’s boil it down. Maybe some of these recipes will make it into your arsenal of “Go-To Chocolate Recipes”.

Chocolate Chips, Butter, Strawberries- Good!1.) Among the easiest of recipes: Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries! You only need to melt a cup of chocolate chips to a quarter cup butter, to make a delicious dip for some beautiful strawberries. If the strawberries are organic, this is practically a super-food, right? These won’t hold up for long (it’s best to make them day-of), but it’s easy to eat quite a few of these!

Candy dish full of Red Palm Oil Fudge Truffles2.) On the healthy side, and also on the easy side, are Easy Chocolate Truffles that are quite simple to make- just some melted coconut oil mixed and a few other simple ingredients, rolled in cocoa powder afterward. (Saves that dipping step). When red palm oil was all the rage, I tried a version of these subbing the palm oil for coconut oil. It was definitely an acquired taste. (The coconut-oil version has proved more popular!)

Grateful-Table-Strawberry-Coconut-Truffles-No-Sugar3.) On the healthy side, but a little more involved to make, are these Chocolate Strawberry Truffles. Frozen strawberries are pureed and mixed with coconut butter and honey. Formed into balls, they get dipped into a bittersweet chocolate mix that’s just cocoa powder, coconut oil, honey, and butter. One can save time by using melted chocolate chips and butter for dipping into, but the non-sugar version is pretty easy! (And healthier, of course.)

Eggs, Butter, Chocolate, Coffee: Easy Chocolate Torte4.) On the easy side- this “Chocolate Truffle Cake” was my Go-To-Cake-Recipe for years, when I was so busy raising kids in the midst of running The New Deli. It was so easy to just microwave a few ingredients, stir in eggs, and put it all into a lined pan. The toasted pecans added before baking helped the dessert to look even better. Nom… I was digging this recipe before gluten-free was even a thing! (Oh, here’s the “Kahlua Chocolate Truffle Cake Version” too- the other one is sans alcohol.)

Quinoa and chocolate cupcakes in polka-dot cupcake liners5.) Now, back to the healthy side. “Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes” has been a popular choice lately. Even the kids at the last birthday party were chowing down on ‘em, to our surprise! There are a bunch of versions of this recipe- mine’s not much different, except that I usually streamline the methods and simplify ingredients whenever possible. Note to self, and others: Process the quinoa AFTER it cools, or it’ll get too glue-y!

Grateful-Table-Chocolate-Cake-Pistachio-Marzipan6.) This “Chocolate Genoise Cake w/Pistachio Marzipan” is at the bottom of the list, not because it’s not as tasty, but because it’s more complex to make. If you’re up for a challenge, go for it. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious. The beauty of the sponge cake is that the cake itself is light and airy, since it’s lower moisture, but because it’s dry (and light), it takes a nice soaking from a sweet syrup poured on the finished cake.

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Chocolate Strawberry Truffles, Healthy Style

Even my skeptical son enjoyed these. He and his cousin are highly suspect of my “healthy” treats, since they’re so unlike typical sweets. But he gave these a thumbs-up!

Showing Love with Healthy Truffles!These make a healthy treat for those of us not eating the usual desserts- a great chocolate fix with a healthy dose of coconut oil (to stimulate metabolism and nourish the brain and such). For those with a sweeter sweet tooth, a hearty sprinkling of palm sugar on top of the chocolate after dipping will help “sweeten the deal”.

At one point in my experiments, I tried using palm sugar in the blended strawberry mixture. Big mistake. There was some kind of reaction, and the mixture turned an unappetizing brown color. Don’t try that!

Makes about 12 half-ounce truffles; extras will hold up well in the freezer.

STRAWBERRY PUREE INGREDIENTS

  • 6 oz. frozen strawberries (half a 12-oz. bag, making about 2/3 c. puree)
  • 2 TBS. melted butter
  • 1/2 c. coconut “spread” (ie. “manna”, “butter”), melted
  • 1 TBS. honey

CHOCOLATE DIP INGREDIENTS (Enough for a double batch)

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 2 TBS. honey
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder

PREPARATION

1. Let frozen strawberries thaw, then puree. Use: > 6 oz. frozen, thawed strawberries (or fresh)

2. To the strawberry puree, add: > 1/2 c. coconut “spread” (ie. “manna”, “butter”), melted > 1 TBS. honey

3. Let mixture firm up, then form into half-ounce-sized balls. Set aside on wax paper in freezer until solid.

4. Prepare “chocolate” for dipping. Gently melt coconut oil and butter in pan: > 1/4 c. butter > 1/4 c. coconut oil

5. Stir in: > 2 TBS. honey > 1/3 c. cocoa powder

6. Let chocolate mix sit out 20-40 minutes to thicken up some. Stir well, then dip strawberry balls into chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with palm sugar as you go (while chocolate’s still warm), if a sweeter truffle is desired. There will be left-over chocolate (enough to make another batch). We like this, as it makes a wonderful addition to our smoothies and such.

7. Store in refrigerator, or for several months in the freezer.

Use Frozen Strawberries, Coconut & Honey, For Healthy TrufflesPS. I’ve linked this to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Blog Carnival. Kelly hosts this thing regularly, where you can find all kinds of cook, healthy recipes and articles. Thanks, Kelly!

(Also posted on June’s Blog, Raising Homemakers.)

 

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Pinterest: A Few of Jen’s Pics, in One Place

I have a few miscellaneous Pinterest ideas that I’ve posted on Pinterest, but the picture might just be for an idea- not that it warrants a whole post devoted to that picture alone.

So I’m going to start an ongoing post, that I’ll add to, that has pics I’ve shared on Pinterest, that don’t really belong anywhere else. “Orphan Pinterest Pics”, I guess you could say!

Carve beets, so slices make hearts“Heart Beet”: Cook beets by wrapping in foil and roasting in oven until tender, or by simmering in water to cover. Then just carve ‘em a bit, so slices make heart shapes. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, right?! Beets are loaded with nutrients, and lots of easily-assimilated iron, so it’s a great way to show someone you care :)

 

 

Organic Paprika (Cuz Peppers R Dirty Dozen)Organic Paprika: Peppers are on the “Dirty Dozen” list, since typically, they’ve tested fairly high in pesticides. This is one of those veggies that’s worth getting organic. Paprika, which comes from peppers, can be found in organic form at the health food store (or here on Amazon). I got the one pound size and keep it in the freezer, since that size is a good value. Now the fam can get a lot of the nutrients peppers are so rich in, even when the fridge is bare and my cooking options that day are minimal! (Paprika makes a killer red sauce for enchiladas and such…)

 

Just soak almonds 24 hrs., pop skins off. Easy "blanching"!“Blanched Almonds”: Maybe I get a bit OCD about organic. I believe there are more nutrients in organic foods, and buying organic supports those farmers. Fast can be nice though, and if you want blanched almonds with NO work, just pick ‘em up at Trader Joe’s. But, if you’d like organic almonds, and don’t want to go to the bother of adding boiling water, in order to pop the skins off, just soak the almonds for 24 hours. The skins will pop off this way too!

 

 

 

 

“From the Land of Milk & Honey”: My first cookbook’s still on Amazon, but after Winepress Publishing went under, amidst shrieks of fraud, lawsuits, and cult management, I opted to have them ship my cookbooks to me while they still existed. That explains why my book is no longer available through major book suppliers, but it is still available from me!

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A Healthy Gut = Happy Head

I am digging my probiotics. Maybe you’re already a pro at making your own probiotics, in which case- you know what I’m talking about! My friend mentioned how her buddy was drinking kombucha to help with anxiety, so… I knew I needed to post this!

Healthy Gut Equals Happy Head

This article on Mark’s Daily Apple dishes the low-down on probiotics, and what they do for the health of our gut. The new superfoods!  For one, gut bacteria can LEARN. They can learn how to digest certain things. If you eat a lot of a certain food, eventually, the gut bacteria might learn how to break that food down into well-absorbed nutrients. Amazing.

These gut bacteria also produce short-chain fatty acids- an aid to health. They help improve bone mineral density. They can even turn phytic acid into inositol, for our bodies to put to use! Phytic acid is found on the outer parts of many grains, nuts, and seeds, and can interfere with our absorption of nutrients. But healthy gut bacteria can actually break that phytic acid down.

And they can even manufacture Vitamin K and B vitamins out of some of the basic food materials we ingest. Making something out of nothing, practically.

Gut bacterias also form a hardy barrier against bad bugs that pass their way. Whoot!

Also, did you know that gut bacteria create a LOT of our serotonin and dopamine? Our gut is actually communicating with our brain. Ever wonder if those mood swings had something to do with that fast food you just ate? Maybe. Scientists have noted there seems to be a connection between behavior disorders and gastrointestinal problems. Huh.

Maybe this doesn’t inspire many folks to healthier, probiotic eating. For me, I can’t even finish writing about these findings without going to get a slug o’ my kombucha brew. I find this news very exciting.

For newbies, let me say: It is pretty simple to add probiotics to your diet. Here are three simple ways to add probiotic goodness and improve your gut’s health:

1. Dairy Kefir or Yogurt (maybe the most well-known of the probiotics)

2. Kefir (water kefir, that is, which is created when little clumps of gelatinous “kefir grains” turn sugar and molasses water into a probiotic, fizzy, natural “soda” that’s actually good for you)

3. Kombucha (in which a floating, mushroom-ish critter turns a sweet, tea-infused brew into another probiotic, fizzy drink)

4. Fermented Veggies (ya know- like pickles. And like cabbage, which already contains elements just dying to convert into sauerkraut and kim chee-type relishes. A little salt, a little pressing into a jar until covered in its own juice, a little time for the veggies to ferment, and… Whal-lah! Done!)

Probiotics are the ultimate economical foods, since they seem to turn something cheap (sugar, cabbage, etc.) into a finished product worth far more than the initial ingredient. Check it out!

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Portabella Mushroom Burgers- Vegetarian Style

Use the mushrooms in place of hamburger patties, for a “meaty” vegetarian alternative at dinner. Or let the mushrooms cool off a bit, slicing into strips. Toss a simple salad of greens, olive oil, vinegar, and salt (or your favorite dressing), dish up onto salad plates, topping with the mushroom strips. What a salad!

 Vegetarian Main Dish: Portabella!INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Portabella Mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. or so olive oil
  • 1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced
  • 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

PREPARATION

1. Get enough Portabella mushrooms for the number of people you’re serving. Typically, it’s one burger-sized mushroom per person, or just a half mushroom per person for a salad. Remove stem and drizzle olive oil on the inside; rub more olive oil onto the outside. For four burgers, use: > 4 Portabella Mushrooms > about 1/2 c. or so olive oil

2. Next, spread some chopped garlic around the inside of the mushroom. Use: > 1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic

3. Add: > 1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced (or grated)

4. Top with: > 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

5. Bake the cheese-mushrooms at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or so, until cheese is lightly golden. Serve on toasted hamburger buns, with all the fixings, if desired, or atop a salad.

6. If you’re short on time, you can speed things along using the microwave. Microwave the cheese-mushrooms (about 1-2 minutes per mushroom), then broil just a few minutes, until cheese is golden and mushrooms are soft.

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Do You Know Where Your Honey Went?!

It might sound like a conspiracy theory, but I don’t trust most brands of honey anymore. I get my honey from Glory Bee Honey now, since they carry honey that’s high in pollen. (I get this particular honey or it’s larger cousin, as it’s organic and seems the best value for the price.) After all, not all “honey” is, well, honey!

Honey Comb- Real Honey!This study found that 100% of all honey tested from drug stores and fast food chains had no trace of pollen in it. And more than 75% of all the honey tested in larger grocery stores (Safeway, Target, Kroger, Costco, etc.) had no trace of pollen in it. Pollen is the one thing in honey that can vouch for its composition. Without the pollen, it can’t be traced. It might be all honey, it might not be! (Should I say, “It might not BEE”?!)

Maybe that’s why the Europeans created standards for levels of bee pollen and propolis. To be called “raw, organic honey”, it has to pass certain testing. The European Union Directive on Honey says, “The removal of pollen will make the determination of botanical and geographic origin of honey impossible and circumvents the ability to trace and identify the actual source of the honey”. Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics is dangerous. Granted, it’s only fatal to a very small percentage of people, but… still!

I know of some dear folks who’ve been fighting allergies for years. I did too, so I know how annoying this is! But perhaps a daily dose of local honey could help address this issue? (REAL honey, that is…) I believe that, for us to benefit from the potential health advantages of honey, we ought to stick to stuff like Glory Bee Honey, Bee Farms Raw Honey, and other such products. Just to be on the safe side!

As I researched various products at Glory Bee Honey, I pondered whether to get bee propolis or bee pollen as well. Such products have been popular for some, as nutritional supplements. But I concluded that the main thing is to just get a quality honey in the first place, as it will naturally contain some pollen and propolis, since it’s unfiltered, natural honey.

A few ideas of ways to use that special honey? I add a bit to smoothies, if I’m not putting something sweet like banana in it. Or it’s good in granola bars or energy bars. Another fave: Rice pudding, made with honey instead of sugar. It turns out real custard-like… delicious! You can even skip the rice if you’re going grain-free. What a treat!

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Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

If I’m going to make homemade sourdough bread using freshly ground whole wheat flour, I definitely need a system. Otherwise, I won’t have time for this! Below is the streamlined recipe I use every few days (when we’re getting low on our daily bread).

Sourdough Bread w/whole grains

I’ve streamlined the following recipe, not mentioning the extras you can add, like raisins, caraway seeds, millet, palm sugar (for a sweeter bread), walnuts and such. But you can experiment with any or all of those additions. Adding extras will dictate a larger bread pan though—a cast iron skillet works well in that case.

In my earliest experiments, before I had a KitchenAid mixer at home, I kneaded the bread on a wooden board (as directed in most recipes). Messy cleanup- arg! Kneading the dough on a Formica counter top was an improvement, as the dough didn’t stick as much. I didn’t have to add as much extra flour to keep it from sticking to the counter, so the bread was moister.

Then I moved up to kneading the bread in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, set on a towel (so it didn’t move around too much), in the sink (a good level for throwing some hearty dough punches). So convenient, and I got a good work-out too. If you’re old-school and don’t have a fancy mixer, this method comes in second best.

Now that I have a KitchenAid for the home kitchen, I just knead the dough in that. It’s not as quick a method as the one for “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” (found on Amazon), but one can make some awesome whole wheat bread with the recipe below! Makes one loaf, about 2 1/2 lb.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (scant) qt. sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 c. warm, filtered water (non-chlorinated is best for the yeasts)
  • 2 c. wheat berries, frozen (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 c. more of wheat berries, frozen (or about 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour)
  • 1 TBS. salt
  • Optional: 1 c. raisins, 2/3 c. millet,  1 1/3 c. walnuts, 1 TBS. caraway seeds

PREPARATION

1. In a medium bowl, add: > 1 scant quart of sourdough starter

2. Stir in, mixing well: > 1 1/2 c. warm water (around 105 degrees is fine, or warm to the touch)

3. Grind flour in a VitaMix, KitchenAid (with attachment), or other mill. Use frozen wheat berries to keep the flour from getting too warm from grinding. Start with: > 2 c. frozen wheat berries (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)

4. Stir flour vigorously into the bowl of starter and water mixture, until smooth. Pour a scant quart of the mixture back into the sourdough starter jar, to refrigerate until next time.

5. To the remaining mixture in the bowl, add more flour. Use: > 1 to 1 1/2 c. more of frozen wheat berries, ground into flour (or use 2 to 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour)

6. Stir second batch of flour in fairly well, leaving some out if it’s too thick.

7. Transfer the rather firm blob of dough into an oiled KitchenAid bowl (or 8-c. measuring cup).

8. Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise until doubled. This will take 4-6 hours in a cool kitchen, or quicker in a warm place.

9. After dough’s doubled in size, add salt and knead for 9 minutes or so. Optional items can be added, but will make for a larger loaf (which will need a larger pan!).

10. Use coconut oil (or butter) to oil a loaf pan or skillet. Shape the dough into a loaf, rolling it in some organic corn flour or other favorite, to coat the outside. Set in well-oiled pan.

11. Let rise another few hours, until doubled again. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes per loaf (or in skillet), or 15 minutes for a dozen rolls. For larger loaves, when goodies like raisins, millet and such have been added, let bake 45-50 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on a rack.

Posted in 2. Bars, Bread & Breakfast, Recipes | Tagged , , | 1 Response
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