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

This soup can now be found in my ebook, Soup’s On. Alas, I couldn’t post the duplicate content, even on my own webpage, so… I’ll just sum up the recipe for you here. For more details, maybe you can get the book?! :)

Authentic Borscht recipes might use rye flour to thicken the soup, or even “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 SoupSauerkraut (homemade or store-bought) can sub for the Kwas; it will give the soup a tangy kick as well. If using store-bought sauerkraut, do NOT purchase the one in a can. It really smells like garbage, and then you’ll think you don’t like it. The one in the jar should say, “naturally fermented”; once the product gets canned though, I think it’s subjected to too much heat in processing, which ruins it…

Add beef broth (and/or chunks of beef) for a hearty soup, if you want. But it’s good vegetarian-style too!

To make the soup, just bake (or slow cook) some beets until tender. Or cook them the old-fashioned way, in water on the stove top. Any way you slice it, they get rather messy. Oh well! Set the cooked beets aside.

You’ll also want to cook up some diced potatoes and carrot, in water to cover (again, until tender).

Grill some cabbage in a bit of olive oil (or coconut oil). Add 1 tablespoon or so of rye flour (or sub white flour), plus some caraway seeds (toasted first to bring out flavor). Slowly add some of the cooking water from the potato/carrot pot, stirring until smooth.

At that point, everything can go into the potato pot, including the beets (sliced in thin strips), plus some salt to taste. Add that “Kwas”, or a half cup or so of sauerkraut, or a teaspoon of white vinegar.

Serve it with some sour cream (or a dollop of coconut cream), and maybe a sprinkle of dill weed. Pretty dang good!

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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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Leg of Lamb Mosaic: Elegant Easter Dinner!

Butterflied Lamb, Stuffed w/Carrot, Spinach, Garlic, HerbsLamb can be a welcome change from typical roasts; perfect for special occasions. This lamb recipe is big on flavor, presentation, and economy; Leg of Lamb is usually better-priced than other cuts.

With some prep done ahead of time (like roasting the red peppers before-hand), it’s not too much work all at once. The whole recipe could be prepared the day before and refrigerated, then roasted on serving day; in such a case, the overnight chilling may make it take a bit longer to cook.

Serves 8 or so, depending on size of lamb, and appetites.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 5 lb. leg of lamb, boneless*
  • 6 or so red peppers (or 1-2 c. roasted red peppers)
  • 4-5 med. lg. carrots, peeled
  • 1 bunch of Swiss Chard (or substitute 6 oz. spinach)
  • 1/2 c. or so of diced onion (half of one small onion)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 c. parsley
  • 1/4 c. fresh rosemary and mint, if available
  • 1 c. chicken stock

 PREPARATION

1. Ahead of time, prepare roasted red peppers. Roast in iron pan, at highest oven temperature: > 6 or so red peppers (as many as might fit in the pan)

2. Check them every 20 minutes or so. As the tops get slightly blackened, turn them to get the other sides cooked as well. When skins have darkened, set the pan aside to cool. Remove skin and seeds when cooled.

3. Set red peppers aside.

4. Also ahead of time, pre-cook the carrots, by steaming or microwaving until somewhat tender. Set the cooked carrots aside. Use: > 4-5 med. lg. carrots, peeled

5. Prepare the Swiss Chard  by removing the tough inner rib (or substitute spinach): > 1 bunch of Swiss Chard (or 6 oz. spinach)

6. Also ahead of time, prepare a seasoning spread of the following, mixed together and set aside: > 1/2 c. or so of diced onion (half of one small onion) > 2 large garlic cloves, minced > 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper > 1/4 c. parsley > 1/4 c. fresh rosemary and mint, if available

7. Prepare the lamb. Use: > 4 to 5 lb. leg of lamb, boneless

8. Open the fatter parts of the lamb up by slicing cross-ways, almost all the way through, spreading the “butterflied” piece open. Pound the meat until flattened, with a meat-tenderizing hammer.

9. Spread the pounded, butterflied lamb with: > The seasoning spread (of the chopped herbs/garlic)

10. Add the following ingredients onto the lamb in layers: > The trimmed Swiss Chard (or spinach) > The cooked carrots, left whole > 1-2 c. roasted red peppers, wrapped around the carrots

11. Starting with the smaller end, start rolling the lamb up, and tie it with kitchen string. Roast at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hrs. (to 130 degrees internally, when tested with a meat thermometer). Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Add the following to the drippings in the pan, making au jus: > 1 c. chicken stock

12. Serve the lamb with a simple side dish of rice or red potatoes, and perhaps a sprig of spearmint or rosemary. Also popular: A little side dish of spearmint jelly.

*If boneless leg of lamb is not available, it’s not too difficult to cut the meat off of a semi-boneless leg of lamb. Even if it ends up as two pieces, it still all gets tied together and works out anyway.

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Whey is Way Cool (Weigh Less, Feel Full, Stay Nourished)

Meals for weight loss: Mix whey powder with ground psyllium husks & acacia powder

I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars monthly on a weight loss system. When my friend told me the monthly cost of the TR90 weight loss plan, I gagged! Then I researched (what all was IN their products?!) (See my findings here.)

THEN, I searched for the best prices on the raw materials I’d need to somewhat duplicate the TR90 product (hopefully at a better price). Although theirs contains fructose, I didn’t add that. How can a refined sweetener like fructose nourish my body?!

But I did decide to try out whey protein, which was a key ingredient in many “diet” mixes. The only other protein powder I’d ever tried was a soy-based one, back in the eighties. That was long before all the stir about genetically modified soy crops, and the other issues with soy. To mention a few: Soy contains phytoestrogens (which can disturb hormone balance). And, like any other bean proteins, the phytic acid soy contains can affect our ability to absorb other nutrients. Also, soy is a goitrogen (so it’s bad for those with thyroid disorders). And it contains protease inhibitors too (which block certain digestive enzymes).

I have not been keen on taking any products containing soy (I even steer clear of pea protein and such). But whey? This sounded interesting. I’d never tried it, though the young men in this household tank up on the stuff for their body-building regimens.

To begin my new regimen, I knew I wanted a plain whey protein, so I wouldn’t be paying for the cheap sweetener and other questionable ingredients many companies like to add. I ordered this 2-lb. pkg. Organic Whey Protein. It was quite an investment at $33/lb.- yipes! And Mark (of Mark’s Daily Apple), doesn’t think you need organic whey, since chemical/pesticide residues won’t be found in the whey itself. I still like the organic stuff though.  I’ve since ordered a larger size of the same product, more simply labeled, but still from the same company, called ProMix Grass Fed Whey Protein – 5lb Bulk Bag. It’s just $15.99/lb.- such a deal for a quality product.

If you’re “sheepish” about ordering five whole pounds of something you’ve never tried before, you can get this decent product instead: Jarrow Formulas Whey Protein; it’s a more economical brand, just $14.99/lb., but you do have to get two pounds to get the better price. Like the stuff I get, it’s also unflavored and low-heat processed, which preserves the glutathoine. (Glutathione can help with mercury detox; this Mercola.com post has a lot of ideas for that project!)

Having looked at the ingredients in the expensive diet mixes, I realized I could easily add a few of them to a base of whey protein powder, at a cheaper investment. For the main blend, I mix in some Acacia Senegal (“Heather’s Tummy Fiber”). I use about 1 TBS. per cup of whey powder. It soothes the stomach and promotes good gut bacteria. (And I think it helps me to not feel too hungry.)

I also add Psyllium Husk Powder, which helps make my regimen more of a cleanse. I had used larger quantities of psyllium husk powder back when I was pregnant (over 30 years ago)- it helped with constipation. I had also used larger quantities of it before I knew I had a thyroid problem, since it was one of the only things that helped keep me regular.

With the protein powder mix that I blend up now, I use much less psyllium powder (about 1 TBS. per cup o’ whey powder); it’s a small amount but I think it helps “move things along”. The way I’ve been eating lately ( including chlorella and kombucha and such in my diet), is designed to help pull mercury and other heavy metals out of my system. But, once the mercury is pulled out of my cells, it needs to continue on out of my body. So… I think the psyllium husk powder helps accomplish that.

Another handy trick saves me time, so I don’t have to add a little this and a little to every shake I make. For my first smoothie of the day, I use my “Fruity Blend”, so I can be sure to get those extra nutrients that certain superfruits contain. I add Freeze Dried Organic Tart Cherry Powder to part of the protein mix. Tart cherry fights inflammation and pain, it’s loaded with antioxidants. Plus, the melatonin it contains can even help folks sleep better.

I had been getting some organic tart cherry juice concentrate in liquid form, but then I read that bottled fruit juices contain methanol (especially bad for those with MS, but hey, I don’t think I want it either!). I decided to play it safe and get freeze-dried tart cherrie powder- less methanol, and super-concentrated delicious flavor! Plus, it mixes easily into my protein powder. Very handy!

I also get organic pomegranate powder, which has many known health benefits. Another benefit: It mixes into a batch of whey powder, to create a handy, flavored protein powder that’s ready-to-add to smoothies.

This might seem like a lot to take in… I better go for now, and let you “chew” on this, ha…

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EEK, It’s eEDCs (Leave My Endocrine System Alone, You!)

EEDCs Disrupt Your Endocrine System!Just for the record, I was not that woman. You know, the one at the store with the gloves and face mask on. (Though I’m not knocking it, mind you.)

And I’ve never been one to bring my glass jars of food to work, instead of a convenient plastic container.

I was never the one packing all my bulk health food supplies into brown paper bags instead of the handy plastic ones.

But I’m getting a lot closer to being that woman! I’m discovering there is a certain cocktail of chemicals at work in our environment, assaulting our bodies to hormone-disrupting effect. There’s a name for this stuff: “eEDCs” (or EDCs)–estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This is a fairly new term. A word search reveals little on the subject–mostly articles by researchers. But I bet this term will be more prevalent as time goes on.

What does it mean to have your hormones disrupted? For one, it might mean weight gain. Other effects: Genital abnormalities, early puberty, reproductive and fertility problems (including decreased sperm count and quality).  The immune system might be affected, or behavior; even brain health. A link between EEDCs and cancers (especially of the reproductive system) has been noted; even a connection to diabetes. EEDCs seem to be especially dangerous for children and pregnant women.

So how do we avoid them?! We can get exposed though plastic food packaging (yes, they can leech into food, especially when heating the package). Most everyone now knows to avoid plastics containing BPA (one of more well-known disruptors), but there are many other chemicals in plastics (though not as well-known), that can cause just as much damage.

BPA is also found in receipt tape. In the case of receipts, the BPA is not bound to a plastic molecule, so it can easily pass from the receipt to your skin, and on to your food. I’ve always been a stickler about washing hands real well after shopping; now I see that my concerns were totally justified! It is wise to avoid putting your hands to your mouth after handling receipts- wash those hands real well, first!

Pthalates are another EDC, found in many beauty products (nail polish, shampoo, hair spray). Check your labels! Is it any wonder that many of us have begun to seek out the simplest, handmade-style soaps (with real short ingredient lists)? I even began washing my hair with an all natural bar soap for hair; my hair is at least as nice as it ever was using other products. I was actually just tired of buying watered-down soap (i.e. shampoo) in plastic bottles that would probably just end up polluting a landfill (or worse). Turns out, bar soap for hair is actually good for me, too! (I’ve also started using “Soap Nuts“; a natural way to get laundry clean with no chemicals. They’re even more economical than regular laundry soap!)

Not to drag anyone down; I don’t mean to freak you out about all these issues. But for those of us who feel like we took real good care of ourselves and still ended up with health conditions, these are some points to consider. No matter how well we think we’re taking care of ourselves, if we are unaware of the effects of certain contaminants in our environment, we ought to get informed!

Some of us already might have heard about more EEDCs being found in our water supply. What’s in your glass of water? Maybe some estrogens (from animal husbandry/agriculture); maybe some prescription drug residue. Maybe even some industrial pesticides, that also disrupt hormonal activity (and might cause breast cancer). Time to look into water filters! I love my Berkey water filter; thankfully, it removes chlorine too. Chlorine can destroy helpful gut bacteria, and in our water supply, it can combine with organic matter, forming chloroform. Not a great chemical to be constantly exposed to!

While we’re covering all the places EEDCs might be found, we should consider food, as well. Dioxins, PCBs, and heavy metals are of concern, since they tend to get stored in our fat tissues for years. They can mess with the endocrine system; plants, fish, and animals absorb these toxins when living in contaminated areas, and that passes along to us.

Environmental toxins are another source of EDCs. VOCs are found in various household products and cleaning chemicals (paints, solvents, preservatives, cleaning products, air fresheners, and craft supplies). I’m finding more friends who can’t walk down the laundry soap aisle, or who react to that person dowsed with a heavy waft of perfume. Even air fresheners can assault the system. Consider that air fresheners don’t really “freshen” the air; they only disguise it. Eventually, the nose doesn’t register that overpowering “fragrance”, but the chemicals are still working against our system. I’ve switched to beeswax candles, which have a natural smell that doesn’t mess with my endocrine system!

You’ve probably heard of the dangers of asbestos (yes, let’s avoid that!), but another problem is PBDEs, found in things like polyurethane foam, and some electronics. That’s one extra point for goose-down pillows!

It’s not really a huge deal- you might be like me, and just start gradually making a few changes. I’m using more glass containers for various foods now, and I get organic produce as much as I can. I wash my hands after handling receipts, eat wild-caught salmon, and use Dr. Bronner’s soap. I’m cleaning more often with vinegar and such. I’m not wearing gloves and a face mask, but I’m feeling all right.

An even more detailed article on this subject can be found here: Paleo & Environmental Toxins.

 

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Frittata: Great Brunch! (Spinach, Artichoke or Green Chile)

I’m rounding up favorite recipes for the brunch we’ll be having for our annual Easter Egg Hunt. Thought I’d share this one with you! Even though I don’t use much flour these days, in this particular case, the flour helps the dish to hold up, and to cut easily into small serving pieces. For gluten-free, check the note below on making the frittata “omelet-style”.

Make Frittata w/Spinach, or Frozen Artichoke Hearts (Or Green Chiles!)This simple recipe is good for serving a crowd, when one doesn’t want to deal with last minute preparations. A bit of flour in the mix helps the dish hold up. Packaged, grated cheeses are convenient, but cost a bit more, and the choice of cheese is limited. An alternative to grating: slice through a chunk of cheese, stack it and cut through it again to get smaller pieces. It works just as well as the grated cheese.

 Fancy chefs may like making their frittatas more like an omelet is made, as the eggs cook just the right amount, and the toppings are broiled, with bubbly, melted cheese. For that method, eggs are whisked with a bit of water, and added to a hot, oiled skillet. The cooked layer is lifted to the top with a spatula, and fillings of choice can be layered on next, with cheese on top. The whole pan then gets broiled until the cheese is bubbly. A glorified omelet, really, but it looks especially appetizing with the broiled cheese on top.

This frittata recipe serves 4-6 as a main dish, or more as an appetizer.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz. Jack cheese or other favorite, divided in half (about 2 c. grated)
  • 6 eggs
  • 12 oz. Ricotta cheese
  • One 8 oz. bag frozen spinach
  • 1 c. or so grated Jack cheese
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes, sliced

PREPARATION

1. Prepare cheese by grating (or slicing/chopping): > 8 oz. Jack cheese, divided in half

2. Reserve approx. half of grated cheese for the top layer. Mix well: > 6 eggs

3. Add to eggs in bowl: > 12 oz. Ricotta cheese > One 8 oz. bag frozen spinach > approx. half of the grated cheese > 1/3 c. flour > 3/4 tsp. baking powder > 1/2 tsp. black pepper > 1/2 tsp. salt

4. Mix well. Pour into buttered 13×9″ dish, and top with: > 3 or 4 tomatoes, sliced

5. Last add: > Reserved grated cheese

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, until golden on top. Serve warm or at room-temperature. Cut into smaller pieces to serve as an appetizer.

VARIATIONS

Artichoke Frittata

Omit spinach and salt. Substitute: > Three 6.5oz. jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained (or 1 bag frozen artichoke hearts plus 1/2 tsp. salt)

 

Green Chile Frittata

Omit spinach and Jack cheese. To serve, top w/cilantro. For frittata, substitute: > Two 7 oz. cans green chilis, drained > 8 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated

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Chicken w/ Sesame Orange Marinade (Easy Recipe for a Crowd)

I’m starting to plan for our annual Easter Egg Hunt on Palm Sunday, and think I’ll serve this, since it makes so much. Yes, it’s also nice to serve on a smaller scale (just reduce the recipe). But it’s ideal when you need a big batch of something, and don’t have a lot of time for preparation. Sesame oil is a key ingredient–it’s loaded with flavor, and is a healthier choice than many other vegetable oils. It’s the base of a great sauce!

Sesame Orange Chicken for a CrowdOccasions come up when a simple meat recipe is desired, to serve a large number of people. Boneless chicken thighs are a tasty, economical choice; creating a simple marinade makes preparations easier. The thighs can be partially cooked in the oven, then brought to the grill if desired, to add extra flavor.

This chicken will be tender and moist; it can be served with the homemade sauce, or on its own. 40 or so servings.

INGREDIENTS

20 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 c. hot water

3 TBS. salt

1 c. frozen orange juice concentrate

1 c. lime (or lemon) juice

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. white vinegar

1/4 c. toasted sesame oil (or peanut oil)

SAUCE INGREDIENTS

1/2 c. frozen orange juice concentrate

2 TBS. lemon juice

1 1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. hot pepper oil (or 1 tsp. cayenne)

1 c. toasted sesame (or peanut) oil

1 red pepper, finely chopped

1 bunch chives (or green onion), finely chopped

PREPARATION

1. In a 3-5 gallon bucket, or other large container, mix to dissolve: > 2 c. hot water > 3 TBS. salt

2. Add remaining ingredients and stir well: > 1 c. frozen orange juice concentrate > 1 c. lime (or lemon) juice > 1/2 c. sugar > 1/4 c. white vinegar > 1/4 c. toasted sesame oil (or peanut oil)

3. Let marinade cool off some; marinate in the above mix overnight: > 20 lb. boneless chicken thighs

4. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Finish on grill for extra flavor, or bake a bit longer, until done. Serve warm or cold.

5. To serve with the above sauce, add the following to a small bowl: > 1/2 c. frozen orange juice concentrate > 2 TBS. lemon juice > 1 1/4 tsp. salt > 2 tsp. hot pepper oil (or 1 tsp. cayenne)

6. Slowly whisk in, in a slow stream, until incorporated: > 1 c. toasted sesame (or peanut) oil

7. Garnish sauce with: > 1 red pepper, finely chopped > 1 bunch chives (or green onion), finely chopped

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The Weatherman Says Drought, But Joel 3:18 Promises Water!

We went on a little tour of the Napa wine country this past summer, taking this picture of a fountain at one of the wineries. It was almost like a dream; we bought some cheese while there; it was still warm from being “pulled” that morning. We had some excellent bread and other snacks to go with that cheese, and had a beautiful view of the countryside.

Remember the Lord's Promises! ("In that day...")Even though a drought has been officially declared here in California, I post this picture on one of the (few) rainy days we’ve had this season. Perhaps the ravines will yet indeed run with water! After all, God promises.

In the bleakness of winter, it’s good to look back on a perfect summer day, and remember that God has even better things in store. We can rest in confidence, even if (or when) things look bleak. Because God ultimately pours out His blessings on those who love Him, working all things out for the good. What an encouragement.

Wallpaper: Desktop Backgrounds w/Verses

“In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the valley of acacias.” Joel 3:18

Below are links to a couple of computer backgrounds you might enjoy (similar to the above picture, but formatted to fit a desktop screen).

To use for desktop wallpaper, left click on appropriate monitor size, then right click and choose “select :

Desktop Background for wide monitor, w/Bible verse from Joel 3:18Click here for Background for wider monitors

Click here for Background for shorter monitors

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Banana Bread Breakfast Bars: Vegan, Healthy, Hearty

Breakfast-Bars-w-Quinoa-BuckwheatSome of us are really into soaking grains. Maybe this started because of some difficulties digesting wheat. Maybe it began after reading articles on how grains can be loaded with phytates, which interfere with absorption of nutrients.

For me, it was all the above. Plus, a savvy friend mentioned soaking oatmeal overnight in some yogurt (or lemon or vinegar), before cooking it. I was intrigued, since I’d been on the raw food band-wagon. At that point, I’d been soaking grains overnight, then eating them raw. As I researched the reasons behind adding yogurt (or lemon/vinegar) to the soaking liquid, I discovered numerous articles on how difficult raw grains are to digest. Maybe that explained, in part, why my iron levels were rather low, despite a “healthy” diet.

In the past year, since changing how I prepare grains, I’ve seen my iron levels improve dramatically. There have been other improvements as well; I am sold on the pre-soak method!

Part of the beauty of the following recipe is that it makes a big batch. I don’t go through the whole soak process daily–this batch lasts my husband and I over a week, which makes it worth my while. It can store in the freezer for weeks (or in the refrigerator, for a week or so).

For an easier recipe, the Oatmeal Breakfast Bar Recipe uses standard rolled oats, and doesn’t need to be processed, since the oat flakes are soft enough. And for an alternative to bananas, you might try subbing apples (plus extra cinnamon and nutmeg). That’s delicious too!

Makes 12-16 large bars.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 c. whole raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 1/3 c. quinoa (red or other)
  • 1 1/3 c. steel-cut oats
  • 1 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 c. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. chia seeds (soaked in 1/2 c. water)
  • 3 medium bananas, lightly mashed (or thin-sliced) (or sub apples)
  • 1 1/3 c. diced dates, raisins, or other dried fruits
  • 2/3 c. coconut palm sugar
  • 1 c. coconut oil
  • 2/3 c. macadamias, cashews, or other favorite nut/seed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. almond extract (or substitute spices)
  • 2 tsp. salt

PREPARATION

1. Soak the buckwheat, quinoa, and steel-cut oats for one day. The following day, rinse, drain, and let sit one more day in a large strainer, in dark cupboard. Use: > 1 1/3 c. whole raw buckwheat groats > 1 1/3 c. quinoa (red or other) > 1 1/3 c. steel-cut oats

2. After a day of soaking and a day of sprouting, process about half the mixture in a blender or food processor- this will make the grains into a “batter”. (The other half of the grains can stay whole, to give the bars more texture.) Process only about two cups at a time if using the blender (so the blender isn’t over-taxed). While processing, add the following, so mixture is liquid enough to process better. Use: > 1 1/2 c. boiling water > 1 c. coconut oil
Banana Bread Breakfast with Whole Grains

3. Set processed mixture aside; prepare other ingredients. Add chia seeds and water to a mixing bowl, letting the chia seeds absorb the liquid, stirring some if necessary. Use: > 1/4 c. chia seeds > 1/2 c. water

4. After chia seeds have softened, add to that bowl: > 3 medium bananas, lightly mashed (or thin-sliced) > 2/3 c. coconut palm sugar 1 1/3 c. diced dates, raisins, or other dried fruits > 2/3 c. macadamias (or other favorite nut) > 2 tsp. vanilla > 1 tsp. almond extract (or cinnamon and other spices) > 2 tsp. salt

5. Stir until the mixture is blended, then stir in: > The processed grains, plus the extra (that didn’t get processed)

6. Add mixture to an oiled 13″x9″ pan.

7. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

8. Turn oven off, let finish baking with oven off for 25 more minutes. Serve warm or cold.

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“Lobster” Bisque- What’s More Romantic (& Easier?!)

Lobster Bisque might be the perfect menu selection for Valentine’s Day, if you’re not going to a fancy restaurant. If they have it on their menu, you can bet it’ll cost a whole lot more than what it takes for you to make it.

If you’re really pinching pennies, you can substitute langostino (not exactly lobster; more like a small crab) or shrimp. Definitely cheaper than lobster! (Even if lobster is so good…)

This recipe just happens to be low-carb and gluten-free. Not to be trendy, but mainly because this is how it tastes best- with just a bit of sauteed onion and tomato to give it body, and none of those flour-y thickeners that are sometimes used. This Lobster Bisque is also very easy to make, so the cook has enough energy left to still feel romantic. Perfect for Valentine’s Day! Serves 4-6.

(Lobster or) Shrimp Bisque- Simple RecipeINGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. or so shrimp heads, if available
  • 1 medium large onion, chopped
  • Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 12-oz. pkg. frozen Langostino (or sub shrimp, or real lobster)
  • 16 oz. canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2-4 c. shrimp stock (or sub chicken stock)
  • Fresh herbs (tarragon and thyme, or others)
  • Grated pink peppercorns (or chili flakes)

PREPARATION

1. Ideally, you might purchase head-on shrimp for previous meals; save the shrimp heads to make an excellent stock. The shrimp heads are particularly high in the esteemed nutrient “Astaxanthin“; plus, it makes super delicious stock. Prepare shrimp stock using heads of shrimp, covered in boiling water and cooked until flavorful. Use: > 1 lb. or so shrimp heads

2. Saute in some olive oil until translucent and soft: > 1 medium large onion

3. Process in blender (or use immersion blender): > Sauteed onion > 2 c. (16 oz.) canned tomato

4. To the processed onion and tomato, add and pulse/mix just until blended: >1 12-oz. pkg. frozen Langostino (or sub shrimp, or real lobster) > 1/2 c. cream > 1 tsp. salt > fresh herbs > 2-4 c. shrimp stock (or sub chicken stock)

5. Put back into soup pot, heat, and garnish with fresh-grated pink pepper (or pepper flakes) to serve

 

Posted in 1. Soups, Recipes, Seafood | Tagged , , , | 4 Responses

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries- Easiest Romantic Dessert

Chocolate Chips, Butter, Strawberries- Good!As is typical, I seemed to run out of time to make a fancy dessert for Valentine’s Day. I guess the good news is, it’s easier to burn off the calories from this dessert, than from one more heavily-laden with starch and fat and sugar!

We won’t be going to a fancy restaurant (so expensive), so I thought I would spice things up for our Valentine’s Day with an easy (but delicious) batch o’ chocolate-dipped strawberries.

This is a super simple recipe using whatever chocolate you have on hand. Just add a bit of butter to the chocolate, melt (in microwave, or gently, on stove), then dip.

I used 1 c. chocolate chips to 1/4 c. butter. (That works out to 6 oz. chocolate, if you’re using a scale, plus 2 oz. butter.)

It took just over a minute to melt this much in the microwave. I added a dash of almond extract too, since it seems to go so well with strawberries. (In my opinion!)

I was happy I’d found some good, organic strawberries at Trader Joe’s yesterday- they’re delicious. (Even tastier with chocolate on them.)

We’ll have a light, chocolatey dessert, which should leave us with enough energy to enjoy the rest of the evening as well. A great Valentine’s Day to you all!

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Healthy Bathing: Turn Chlorinated Water into Liquid Gold

A recipe for relaxation can be as easy as adding one 1000 mg Vitamin C tablet to your bathwater, which will neutralize the chlorine and chloramine. If you haven’t experienced dry, itchy skin or red eyes from soaking in a bath that uses chlorinated tap water, you still might want to consider: Chlorine’s been noted to potentially increase allergies and asthma, cancer, and fluid in the lungs, sometimes damaging breathing passages and soft tissue, and even reducing beneficial gut flora. Crazy, right? Well, not to obsess. I’m not going to worry about it. But I am going to start dropping Vitamin C’s into my bathwater on those long-soak nights…

Salt Bath, Baking Soda Too, Lavender

I pulled out the Epsom salts after a darn dog bit my arm recently; a soak in this was recommended to help draw out any toxins. Well, my arm has healed nicely, but I’ve also realized that the Epsom salts might be handy on occasions besides emergencies. There are recipes for desserts and main dishes, but… how ’bout a recipe for relaxation, using various natural household ingredients?! Laurie at Empowered Sustenance recommends this little recipe: “2 cups of epsom salts, 1-2 cups of non-iodized salt and 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar OR baking soda (but not both).”

If you’re in a real detox kind of mood, up the baking soda to 1 c. (8 oz.). After a 30-minute soak, wrap up in a big towel and rest for fifteen minutes, as the toxins released can make one feel a bit weak.

I’ve added a few drops of favorite essential oils to my baths too; I get mine from Nature’s Gift, for a real treat. I love Marge at Nature’s Gift–she’s very down-to-earth and eager to help, and determined to offer optimum quality. I’m not subsidized by this company, in case you wondered. I just think they’re great! Several years back, I researched my options for aromatherapy-quality oils (not convinced that Young Living was offering the best price for the best quality), and determined I could get the best value for quality oils through Nature’s Gift. I’m still happy with all I’ve received from these folks!

If you’re ever feeling uptight in the late evening, consider that the magnesium sulfate in Epsom salts can relax muscles. (It can even help with constipation!) And regular salt helps keeps cells hydrated. Drink a glass of water before your bath too- that’s another healthy tip!

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