My New Favorite Greens

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It’s no secret that I love all of the dark greens that fall and winter bring. My new favorite? Collards.

collards

 

I had never tried collards until they were substituted for the broccoli rabe I ordered in my CSA.

Best. Substitution. Ever.

In fact, some of the best veggies I have tried were due to a CSA substitution. :)

With their powerful anti-cancer properties and loads of nutritional value, they are an awesome addition to any comforting winter meal.

Or, if you make them this way, they are a meal all on their own.

Goodness, I love a ham hock.

Want a vegetarian way to prepare them? Try this one.

How about Brazilian style? These look awesome.

Let’s get beyond taste for a moment, though.

Collards offer much more than amazing flavor. Aside from cancer prevention (as previously stated), they also have been shown to lower cholesterol, decrease inflammation in the body and with their high choline levels, may help with fatty liver disease.

Get yourself some collard greens, and experiment with how you like to prepare and eat them.  While the ham hock recipe is delicious, it is probably also safe to assume that a lot of the nutrients are cooked out in their long cooking process. Either way, eating some greens is better than no greens at all, so find your fave way and eat them often.

Your body will thank you. :)

 

 

 

Chicken Soup…(and gluten free biscuits!)

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I made a pretty killer soup the other night using some pretty awesome and simple ingredients.

I love a one-pot dish!

I wanted chicken and dumplings, but my family doesn’t love the texture of dumplings. I compromised by making a gluten-free biscuit, and pouring a thickened soup over the top of it.

The result? Down-home country goodness. YUM.

So easy, and frugal too! I served four with one chicken breast, which by itself is pretty darn impressive. :)

Ingredients:

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 box organic low-sodium chicken broth (or 4 cups homemade if you have it!)

1/2 of a yellow onion

3 carrots, sliced (From my CSA box!)

3 minced garlic cloves (Yep, CSA.)

1/2 cup sliced organic celery

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil (Bari is amazing.)

1 tsp dried thyme (CSA box again!)

1 tsp turmeric (the color it gives is amazing…plus, its super good for you.)

2 tsp salt (I used pink Himalayan)

1 tsp black pepper

1-2 tbsp. Pamela’s Gluten Free Artisan All Purpose Flour

Fresh parsley for garnishing (Can you guess where it comes from?)

Pretty simple process:

Heat butter and and olive oil. Slice chicken into bite-sized pieces, and sautee.

Once cooked, remove from pot, and set aside.

Add onion to pan and sautee until translucent

Add carrots, celery and garlic and cook for just a couple of minutes until it starts to sort of “come together”.

Add stock, herbs and spices, stir to combine then add chicken back. Put a lid on it, simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Now is the time to prepare your biscuits (Recipe below!)

To thicken, Remove about a cup of the broth, and combine that broth with your gluten free flour. Now, whisk that back into the big pot. Continue whisking until it is all combined so as not to produce lumps.

My basic biscuits are as follows. For this particular recipe, they are super yummy with thyme and garlic powder mixed into the dough:

2 cups Pamela’s Artisan Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 stick butter, chopped

1 cup raw, plain kefir

In food processor, pulse dry ingredients. Next, add butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add kefir, and pulse 3-4 times until dough *just* comes together.

Remove from bowl, and fold over itself 3-4 times. Pat into a round disk, about an inch thick. Cut into desired size with biscuit cutter (or even a drinking glass).

Bake at 450* on parchment paper for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Pour your soup over a biscuit and garnish with fresh parsley (Which I totally forgot to do…I was a little excited to eat.)  YUMMM.

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Perfect cold weather meal. So yummy and heart warming…and nobody complaining about dumpling texture. ;)

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Cranberry Salsa

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It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is upon us. This means turkey, pumpkin pie, Christmas songs, overly decorated stores, extra calories, and that all too familiar frantic holiday pace.

It’s also time for my favorite dip in the world.

Cranberry Salsa over cream cheese.

OMG SO GOOD.

Mmmm Cranberries.

cranberries

It’s simple. Take the following ingredients:

1 (12-ounce bag) or 3 cups fresh cranberries,  rinsed and drained

1/4 cup minced green onions

3 Serrano chilies, cored, seeded and minced

1/2 cup coconut sugar (Yes, it looks like a lot, but you need it with those cranberries!!)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro,  minced

2 tablespoons finely-grated fresh ginger or 2 tsp dried

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2 (8-ounce) packages organic cream cheese

Cranberries and/or cilantro sprigs for garnish

It’s so easy to make. Pop all ingredients (minus cream cheese and garnish items) into your food processor, and pulse until everything is combined and slightly chunky. Pour over cream cheese. Garnish as desired, and serve with your favorite crackers.

The colors are perfect for the holidays and the flavor? OMG…you will be addicted.

I picked up some cranberries at Sprouts last week and when I placed my CSA order this week, I discovered that green onion, cilantro, and serrano chilies were all available.

It’s a sign.

Yes, it’s a dip, but I seriously serve this as dinner from time to time. My family loves me for it.

And they should! Cranberries are #1 when it comes to antioxidant power. They are so good for you! So is just about everything else in this recipe.

No mommy guilt here.

I’ll save that for the chocolate that never makes it to their stockings.

Cold and Flu “Season”

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I say, “Season” because I don’t really believe it’s a season. Yes, many people get sick this time of year. Yes, there is a ready and willing nurse on every corner ready to give you the magic flu shot. Yes, your local drugstore will sell enough nightime-sniffling-sneezing-coughing-aching-stuffy nose-fever so you can rest medicine to choke a million horses over the next few months.

Ask your doctor if people can get the flu during other times of the year. The answer? Yes. That’s because “the flu” is always out there.  Furthermore, many people who get sick during “cold and flu season” do not have the actual flu. They likely have a cold, which is not protected by the flu shot in the first place. This graphic sums up my flu “season” theory:

fluseason

It’s cold. We don’t go outside as often.

It’s the holiday season. We eat like crap.

It’s the holiday season. We are stressed.

It’s the holiday season. We don’t rest.

It’s the holiday season. We drive-thru instead of eating REAL FOOD.

So what do we do? We inject ourselves with a vaccine that isn’t really as effective as we like to think it is and cross our fingers that we don’t get sick in other ways. Keep in mind the flu vaccine does NOT protect against colds and stomach viruses.

You’re probably not sick because it’s cold and flu season. You’re probably sick because you aren’t taking time to care for yourself properly.

My point? You still have to do work, people.

A health immune system will do its job. A healthy immune system doesn’t just happen.  You have to help it along.

So, with that, I will give you my favorite suggestions to support your immune system this time of year:

1. TUMERIC!

Indian Turmeric Abstract

It’s amazing stuff. Here’s an awesome blog post on it.

Not only is is amazing for your immune system, but if you DO get sick, its an awesome coughing therapy when mixed with warm honey and hot water.

2.) CUT THE SUGAR.

Sugar is the enemy of your immune system. 100 grams of sugar can suppress your immune system for 6-7 hours. One pumpkin spice latte has 49g. How many of you have the lemon pound cake too?  Add another 46g. Think about that for a second. You have just tanked your immune system for the next several hours of your day. Surrounded by people in a busy mall, perhaps. You know, where viruses live.

Keep in mind this does not apply to natural sweeteners like honey.

Also keep in mind I am NOT saying to use artificial sugar. That shiz will kill you. Really.

3.) EAT REAL FOOD

If your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it.

Quality protein. Green vegetables (fresh, not canned!), yummy fruits. Probiotic rich foods like raw milk or kefir, fermented foods, and apple cider vinegar.

Yes, it’s a busy time of year, which means you are more likely to drive through for something unhealthy. That said, it’s a busy time of year, which means you really don’t have time to be sick. Take the time to invest in your food.

I also want to say that it’s the holiday season and there should be some indulging going on. Have the latte. Have the poundcake, just not every day. Christmas is not complete without my mom’s hearty country breakfast. I’m not turning that down, but I’m also saving my cheat for that day and drinking kefir smoothies in the meantime.

4.) R & R

Rest and relaxation. They seem to be impossible this time of year. Make time for it.  Get plenty of sleep. Relax at the end of a long day. Make 20 minutes for some yoga or deep breathing. Read a book. Listen to music. Curl up on the couch with your blankie and sip hot tea. Figure out what calms you down, and pursue it.

5.) LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

You will be in contact with all kinds of fun bugs and viruses all winter. This means your body will be fighting them quite frequently. Feeling run down? Need a nap? Craving oranges? You might be pregnant. But you also might be fighting something and your body is asking for help. Listen and do as you’re told. Take the nap. Eat the oranges. Go to bed earlier. Your body is speaking to you and it’s your job to listen.

Look, I’m not a doctor, clearly. I may follow my own rules and still get sick. I’d rather err on the side of healthy though. Last year was the first year I was sick during the holidays in four or five years. I was eating horribly, stressing over a million things and not paying attention to how poorly I was treating myself. The result? The entire fam staying home on Christmas with a stomach virus. I’m determined to have a positive do-over this year. The thing is, I knew better. I KNOW better. This year I will do better.

Because I deserve better. You do too.

Bok Choy and Broccoli Beef

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Alternatively titled, “What you cook when chicken is poison and you only have a few things in the house.”

So I hate factory farmed meat, but sometimes it’s the only budget friendly option. I had quite a few bags of a particular brand of chicken that was not officially recalled, but was essentially poison.

Ok, that was dramatic.

The chicken was supposedly fine if you cooked it well, but if you didn’t  you might end up with a drug-resistant strain of salmonella in your body.

I wasn’t taking chances. Every time I looked in the freezer, my brain so a big, red “X” over the bags. A germ-a-phobe just can’t help it. Truth? I’m a little bit food safety paranoid.

I live an hour away from the nearest [decent] grocery store, so I had to use up what I had, which was several packages of organic ground beef from Costco. It’s not only what I had, it’s what I had in abundance. I have used ground beef in a million ways in the last week.

I ordered bok choy in my CSA box this week with the intention of making a bok choy/chicken stir-fry. Obviously, that wasn’t going to work.

It was so pretty though, it had to be used somehow.

bokchoy

Because the cooking time of the stalks and leaves are different, I washed then separated the leaves from the stalks and chopped them both coarsely. I then set them aside while I cooked the ground beef.

bokchoyseparated

Once the ground beef was browned, I added a bit of high heat sunflower oil and threw in my broccoli. I don’t have a wok, so I cooked it all up in my coated cast iron pot. A wok is better, but whatevs. My broccoli is frozen because I can’t find broccoli fresh around here yet. I was wishing I had more gai lan from my last farmer’s trip, but I was out. It would have been perfect.

beefand broc

While that was cooking, I prepared my sauce.

In one bowl, I whisked together:

2 TBSP cornstarch

2 TBSP water

and 1 tsp garlic powder.

In a separate bowl, I combined:

1/3 cup bragg’s liquid aminos (free samples on their website!)

2 TBSP coconut sugar

and 2 tsp ground ginger.

Set aside.

Once broccoli was beginning to thaw, I added the chopped bok choy stalks.

I added about 2 tablespoons of water to the pot and put the lid on, steaming the veggies for about 2-3 minutes. I like my veggies tender. If you like yours crisp, skip this step.

Once veggies were tender, I added the bok choy leaves and cooked another 2 minutes or so until they were wilted.

Once all veggies were at the desired tenderness, I whisked my cornstarch mix into the bragg’s mix and then added to the pot, stirring constantly until it thickened, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately. The kids had rice. We ate ours without. :)

bokchoybrocbeefdone

Super yummy, and the leftovers were even better the next day. It came together quickly, had tons of veggies and protein, and did just fine standing on it’s own without its old buddy, Rice.

The best part? It screamed “resourcefulness” and didn’t require any fancy ingredients. I was able to make it from what I had on hand without involving the “Red X” chicken.

Not exactly a conventional use for ground beef, but a tasty alternative to paranoia. ;)

Dill Hummus (Or, Hiccup Prevention Dip.)

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When you think of dill, what comes to mind?

Pickles?

Maybe a garnish on fish?

Dill can be so much more! And it’s so good for you. I found this graphic that outlines some of the health benefits of dill. There are so many great reasons to eat dill, but I’m pretty sure my favorite is unusual:

Health-Benefits-of-Dill

 

“Can halt the hiccups.”

Seriously? Amazing. I HATE the hiccups. And I can’t ever just get them once. As soon as my body opens the door to hiccups, they just come on in as they please, off and on, all.day.long.

So, I got dill (aka hiccup ninja herb) in my CSA box this week.

I wanted it to be more than a sprinkling on a hard boiled egg.

SOOO, I made dill hummus. Wanna make some? It’s pretty simple:

2 cans organic garbanzo beans, drained.

1/4 cups plain yogurt 

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

4 tablespoons freshly chopped dill leaves, plus extra for garnish

1 teaspoon ground cumin

4 teaspoons hot paprika, plus extra for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pulse all in a food processor until smooth. Serve with veggies, pita chips or a SPOON.

Get more from your food.

Take that parsley and make it the focus of your dish, not just an accessory.

Make your cilantro the star.

Turn that butternut squash into the main course, not just a side.

Get creative, think outside the box, and (in some cases)  enjoy the hiccup-free benefits.

 

Celebrating Cilantro

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Ok, so I have an herb obsession.

I have been collecting dried herbs from KMK Farms via The Farmer’s Daughter CSA for weeks, and discovered this morning that I have quite a stash.

herbs

The mason jar is FULL of dried mint. Makes the best tea ever. One of the bags lost its label, so I call it my “mystery herb”. One day I will remember what it was I’m sure. The plant? It’s a basil tree. Yeah. Tree. Lives inside or out (depending on season) and will live for at least five years. Leaves look like thyme but smell and taste like a mild basil. Kind of amazing. Not “frankenfood” by the way, just grafted. Kind of a fun “bonzai” type hobby plant too. I got distracted, sorry.

As much as I love to have dried herbs around, there is just nothing like fresh.

My favorite? Cilantro. Hands down. I LOVE the stuff. I use is instead of lettuce on tacos, chop it up into a spicy chicken salad, and have even juiced it with fruits and veggies. No matter how much I eat, I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.

I opened my CSA box this week and saw the most gorgeous cilantro ever. It was so full and beautiful… and the smell. OMG.

Really, though, the results of Farmer’s last week were just gorgeous all the way around:

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Cilantro on the right. I mean, just look at that. <3

Want to make a fun sauce for tacos or dressing for a cilantro salad? It’s easy-peasy.

Take 1/2 of a  bundle of cilantro, chopped, and pop it in a blender or food processor.

Puree with:

1 cup of sour cream

2 jalapeno peppers

a heavy pinch of salt

Two peeled avocados

Once smooth, squeeze the juice of one lime in and puree until combined. If its too thick, add a bit more sour cream.

SOOO delicious, especially on fish tacos or over a mixed green salad w/chicken, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and some good quality corn chips crushed over it.  Simple and delicious!

Cilantro is loaded with good-for-you goodness. I went through a detox at the beginning of the year and cilantro was an important part of my cleansing process. It leaches heavy metals out of your body, which may result in a headache when eaten in large quantities, but I stuck it out, figuring it was doing its job! Here’s more info on this wondrous herb:

cilantro

Cilantro season doesn’t last nearly as long as I want it to, so I’m eatin’ it up while I can. I’m also apparently stock piling any and all other herbs available.

Even mystery ones.