Monday, June 17, 2013

Nut and Seed Milk: No Dairy Needed!

Almond and other nut and seed milks are great substitutes for dairy milks.  They can be used anywhere you would use a dairy milk.  I love having vanilla hempmilk over granola or in my oatmeal.  They are tasty in tea or coffee and can be used in baking.  Almond milk is really easy to make and the recipe translates for pretty much any seed or nut you choose.  My two favorites are almond and hemp.

Almonds are full of "good" fats an minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.  They are also high in fiber and have some protein.  They should however be soaked and preferably sprouted before using them to make nut milk, as nuts and seed can be hard on the digestion.

Use raw, whole, unpeeled almonds. I start soaking either in the morning, or the night before. Check the almonds and discard any that are broken, save for another use.
Combine 1 cup almonds and 3 cups filtered water in a wide mouth glass jar or ceramic container.
Place somewhere away from direct sunlight.  Almonds don't need light to sprout, but don't want to be too cold or too hot. Soak for about 10 - 12 hours or overnight. Rinse the almonds after they have soaked for several hours, then cover again with fresh water and continue soaking.
After soaking for 10-12 hours, or overnight, pour the water off and rinse the almonds with cold water, then drain. The water will be brown from the skins.  At this point you can move forward with making almond milk but I like to take a step further and sprout them for optimal nutrition and digestibility.
Place the almonds back in the glass jar and cover. Leave for another 10-12 hours or overnight, rinsing occasionally.

Your almonds are now prepped to make almond milk.  With any seed or nut you will want to soak them before making milk.  Quantities will be the same.

Place the almonds in a food processor and add 2 cups filtered water and 2-3 dates.  You can also add 1 tsp vanilla extract but it is not necessary.  Whir them around until the almonds are reduced to mere bits.  Pour everything off into a strainer lined with cheese cloth or into a nut milk bag.  Strain into a glass container and refrigerate.  You can then add the almond bits back into the processor and add another cup of water to strain out.  At this point you can thinly spread the leftover almonds onto a baking sheet and allow to dry in a low oven, 175 degrees for 4-5 hrs (keep an eye) or on a dehydrator overnight.  Pack this meal up in a glass jar and use to sprinkle over yogurt and fruit, or crust a chicken breast or piece of fish with it.  It's quite tasty and still very nutritious!  As I have said, this process can be duplicated for any nut or seed you like.  I like to make hempmilk because of the high content of omega-3 and it has a rich, nutty flavor.

Almond Meal Crusted Fish with Creamy Greens

2 filets of your favorite fish.  Tilapia, salmon, or swordfish are mine
3-4 Tbsp Almond meal (leftover from making Almond milk)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Ghee or melted butter
Lemon Wedges
Salt and Pepper

1 Bunch of your favorite greens. Kale, beet, or mustard are mine
Ghee or butter
1/2 Onion sliced
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped large
1/4 cup Almond milk
1 tsp Arrowroot (cornstarch will work but you should invest in arrowroot as it is not GMO)
Salt and Pepper

Combine Almond meal, garlic, ghee, and a little salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Mix with your fingers until the ghee has soaked into the almonds and becomes a crumb.  Rub the fish with a little ghee and sprinkle the almond crumb over the fish and bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes per inch of thickness of fish.

Meanwhile, Wash and chop your greens.  Heat a large skillet, with a lid, over medium high heat.  Add about a Tbsp of ghee and your onions.  Saute the onions until they are wilted and begin to caramelize.  Before they get too brown, add your greens and tomatoes, tossing to incorporate the into the onions.  Cover and turn down the heat.  Cook for about five minutes.  You want the greens to wilt and become soft but not cook down to nothing.  Combine the arrowroot and the almond milk, whisk to combine.  Turn heat back up to medium and pour almond milk mixture over your greens.  Cook until thickened, taste and adjust seasoning.

Pile half the greens on a plate and place 1 piece of fish over top.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Whole30 Recipes

Last night I cooked up this delicious stew from (my new favorite book), Well Fed.  As the cooking time went on I adjusted a few things to suit our tastes but essentially the recipe is the same.  I have only made this once but I can tell you, if you have access to fresh herbs, use them.  Dried herbs are fine but fresh ones are divine.

Cinnamon Beef Stew with Orange Gremolata

2-3 lbs beef stew meat cut into 1 in cubes, I used a grass-fed chuck roast
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium carrot, finely chopped approx 1/4 cup (I used 1/2 cup)
1 medium onion, finely chopped approx 1 cup (I omitted)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped approx 1/4 cup (I used 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced approx 2 tsp
2 tbsp tomato paste (read ingredients to make sure it only contains tomatoes, no sugar)
2 cups beef broth (I used homemade bone broth)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (read label for caramel coloring, yuck!)
2-5 cups filtered water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary (1/2 tsp dried)
1 sprig thyme (1/2 tsp dried)
1 sprig sage (1/2 tsp dried)
2 cinnamon sticks

Sprinkle the beef generously with salt and pepper.  In a large dutch oven, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and sear on all sides, do this in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.  Adding too much at once will steam the meat and you will not get a proper sear.  As beef is finished, remove to a plat or bowl while searing the next bathces.

In the same pot, saute the chopped carrots, celery, garlic, and onion (if using) for 2 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and stir for about 1 minute.

Pour in 2 cups beef broth combined with 3 tbsp balsamic and deglaze the pan.  Stirring heartily to loosen all the browned on bits from the bottom.

Add the beef and it's drippings back to the pot.  Add 1 1/2 cups water, 2 tsp salt, pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, sage, and cinnamon sticks.

Bring to a boil the reduce the heat to simmer and partially cover.  Cook for about 90 minutes.  The end result is not soupy but check during cooking to make sure it does not dry out and add more water, 1/2 cup at a time as neccesary.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, make the gremolata.  In a small bowl, mix the parsley, orange zest, thyme and garlic.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and herb stems from the pot.  Ladle into bowls, top with a bit of the gremolata and enjoy!

This can be served over a veggie puree like cauliflower, sweet potato, or carrot/parsnip.  You could also serve it over Cauliflower Rice, yummy!

*The leftovers can be frozen for dinner next week, just make sure to leave some out for your lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Updates, Re-dos, and a Week of Intensely Real Food

Whew! Well, I have made it to day 5 of my personal food challenge (A Journey of Healing).  Day 1 was a haze of chopping, steaming, sauteing, and eating, I ate so much that day yet felt hungry all day (funny how cravings feel like hunger).  Day 2-4 were zombie-like, sleepless, grump-fests, that I personally would not like to revisit.  However, I realistically have to examine what was, and still is going on in my body these days.  Imagine life, up till 5 days ago: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner all consist of grains, dairy, sugars, protein and veg, snacks in between consist of the same.  All the food, to my mind, was healthy (except for occasional splurges).  Fermented foods graced my plate, lots of veggies, and the grains were prepared for easy digestion.  Now, Imagine life, 5 days since: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner all consist of Protein and Vegetables.  That's it.  That's everything, 3 large meals and no snacks, Protein and Vegetables.  So what is going on in my body?  I am experiencing the "Carb Flu".  My body and brain are adjusting to not having sugars from carb dense foods like grains and legumes, no sugar from dairy, no sugar from honey or maple syrup, no sugar from booze, no sugar from sugar.  I am experiencing for the most part, sugar withdrawal.  My body is craving anything that will provide that sugar spike that it thinks it needs.  My brain exhibits that by making me feel unsatiated and unfulfilled.  All of this added together equals a grumpy human being, stay away, stay far, FAR away!

And then, day 5 happened.  I slept through the night.....mostly, the first time in days that I had more than 2 hours sleep.  I woke up before my 7:30 alarm and jumped out of bed with my mind racing towards all the projects I want to get done today.  I exuberantly  cooked breakfast for both my self and the hubinator, eggs and cheese for him and a fried egg (in coconut oil) with red flannel hash and fermented beets for me, who's sounds tastier?!? I am now banging out this much needed post for my recently neglected audience, meanwhile, my brain is planning and organizing the rest of my day.  I feel....awesome? No, I feel friggin amazeballz!

I am excitedly looking towards the weeks ahead of me.  I already see changes in my mental and physical body but I realistically know, this is just the beginning.  I am creating new habits and patterns, I am rebooting my body, and recharging my brain.  I can't wait to get to day 12, day 20, and finally day 30.  I will definitely keep you all posted along the way.

I believe so fully in the positive effects this challenge will have on my body and mind I thought I'd give you a taste of what this first week of food looks like.  If you are not ready to commit to a Whole30 but want to know what it would be like to give it a try, you can use these menus to help you along.  You will get some benefit from 2 weeks, your body will begin to heal and perhaps, you will be feeling so good, you will continue on for 2 more weeks and possibly beyond.

But first I would like to share a re-do with you.  My Bulletproof Tea didn't stand a chance on this food challenge, so I had to give it a make over. The original included milk, sugar, butter, and loads of caffeine, big no-no's.  But what to do? I looked pretty hard at what dairy like liquids are allowed (no, dairy-free creamer is not an option) and coconut milk is pretty heartily endorsed.  I then went to the speciality tea section in my local Wegman's, and found a yerba mate, with spearmint and raw cacao, to mimic the sweetness of sugar.  I then fell back on my old friend coconut oil, doubling it up.

Here's my new method:
steep tea in boiling water with 3 cardamom pods and 3 cloves.  In a small blender jar, combine 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1-2 tbsp coconut oil.  When tea is steeped, pour it into the blender jar (removing the spices) and whir it up for a creamy, latte like, energizing morning cuppa.

Breakfast Jumble
1 cup ground pork, cooked
1/2 apple, chopped
1 cup butternut, cubed and cooked
1/4 tsp ea unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, paprika
Melt 2 tsp coconut oil in a fry pan, add all ingredients and fry until warmed through and brown.  Serve with 1/4 cup fermented saurkraut.
Variation: 1 cup brussels sprouts, cooked in place of butternut

Savory and Tangy Chicken for Breakfast
1 cup ground chicken, cooked
1 cup kale, cooked
4-5 grape tomatoes, quartered
Heat 2 tsp coconut oil in pan and add tomatoes.  When the tomatoes soften add garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add kale and chicken and fry until heated through and browned. Serve with 1/4 cup fermented beets.

Egg Foo Yong
I halved the recipe and replaced the chicken with ground pork.

Red Flannel Hash
I used coconut oil instead of ghee and had fermented beets on the side instead of pickled beets cooked in.  

Begin your week by cooking up enough of the veggies and meats to make each recipe twice.  Store it all in the fridge in containers, scooping out what you need when it comes time to cook.  By cooking each recipe twice you have a great way to vary what you eat each morning and not get bored.  Each of these recipes are great for lunch too!

Killer Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
1 breast of chicken, cooked and cubed
1/2 apple,cubed
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1/8 tsp ea poppy seeds, celery seeds
2 green onions, white parts only, chopped -optional
3 tbsp Olive Oil Mayo
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, add salt and pepper to taste.  Fill butter lettuce leaves with the chicken to make a lettuce wrap.  Fill out the meal with a handful of kalamata olives and a small serving of fruit.

Kale and Sweet Potato Chicken Patties
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup sweet potato, cubed and cooked
1 cup kale, cooked
sprinkle of nutmeg and garlic powder
1 egg
coconut oil
Combine chicken, veggies, spices, and egg in a bowl.  Combine and shape into 4 oz patties.  Either cook or store in fridge, ready to cook.  Heat oil over medium high heat and fry for 4-5 minutes each side.  2per serving
These are great served with a large garden salad with lemon and olive oil.

Chopped Salad
1/2 cucumber, chopped
5 grape tomatoes, quartered
5-6 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
leftover lamb or steak, cubed
2-3 tbsp Avo-ziki
Combine everything in a large bowl.  This is a complete meal.

Scotch Eggs (from Well Fed)
2 pounds ground pork
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
pinch cloves
1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon dried chives
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
8 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1 bag (2 ounces) fried pork rinds (optional)
2 large eggs, raw (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, tarragon, parsley, chives, and garlic. Knead with your hands until well mixed.
Divide the pork mixture into 8 equal servings. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten it in your palm into a pancake shape. Wrap the meat around a hard-boiled egg, rolling it between your palms until the egg is evenly covered. This is much easier than it sounds. If the meat sticks to your hands, moisten them with a little water. Place the meat wrapped eggs on the baking sheet. If using the pork rinds, place them in the bowl of the food processor and process until they resemble bread crumbs; pour them onto a plate or in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat the raw eggs. Gently roll each meatball in pork rind crumbs; you want just a thin dusting. Then roll each meatball in the raw egg and roll a second time in the crushed pork rinds to evenly coat. Place on the baking sheet.
Bake for 25 minutes, then increase the temperature to 400 F and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the eggs are golden brown and crisp.
*These are a Whole30 must!  Make a lot of these at the beginning of the week.  You can eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Delicious with a salad dressed with olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, and mustard.  

Cook up a bunch of chicken breasts seasoned with garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Make a bunch of sweet potato and kale patties, make a few (sugar-free) salad dressings.  Stock the fridge with mixed salad and hearty greens, a few cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives and you are ready for a week of lunches.  These recipes can be duplicated for the 2nd week and you can mix and match with breakfast items for a wide assortment of meals.


I will be adding recipes throughout this week.  So far I have been taking it easy on myself due to the amount of cooking I am doing and accommodating the hubinator as well.  I stocked the fridge with an assortment of portioned proteins, fish, lamb, chicken, and pork and precooked veggies, lots and lots of veggies.  At dinner I cook the protein with some spices.  Then heat up 2 types and 2 cups worth of veggies and dinner is done.  Make an extra portion or protein and you have leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day.

I promise I will give you some scrumptious, mouth-watering recipes but I don't want to share them until I have tested them.  I am not holding back, dinner has been really boring, but really nourishing.  Enjoy!