Monday, July 22, 2013

Food: Fresh Tuna Salad with Avocado

I am not one to go spend the money on a tuna steak to turn it into a tuna salad. Seems like the salad would be an after dinner, lunch left-overs approach. But this ended up being a good approach with a novice tuna steak cooker such as myself. See, I can hone my tuna cooking skills while creating an edible meal. If I started with a tuna steak recipe and totally over-cooked it...well, salad it is. BUT, if I started with the intentions of the salad...then I MEANT to do that and have a good salad recipe outside onion, celery and tuna.

Well, I over-cooked the tuna, lol! But, not so much that it was too dry for a salad! I will continue to work with my pan, the stove, and timing to figure out the perfect combination to get that beautiful pink inside for the tuna steak. In the meantime, here is a great salad recipe from Food and Wine !


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • One 3/4-pound tuna steak, cut 1 inch thick
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, chopped
  • 4 Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • Pea shoots or alfalfa sprouts, for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil, fennel seeds and peppercorns and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat. Season the tuna with salt and add it to the saucepan. Simmer the tuna steak over low heat, turning once, until barely pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and scrape off the fennel and peppercorns. Strain and reserve the oil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, blend the mayonnaise with the minced anchovies, capers, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the fresh lemon juice. Stir the celery, onion and olives into the dressing. Using a fork, break the tuna into 1-inch pieces, then fold into the dressing. Season with salt.
  3. Set 2 avocado halves on each of 4 plates, skin side down. Drizzle the avocado flesh with some of the reserved spice-infused olive oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the tuna salad into the center of each avocado half. Top the tuna salad with the pea shoots or alfalfa sprouts and serve.

Food: Chocolate Syrup

Along with gummy candy, Elora's most recent vice is chocolate milk. For this, she has figured out how to get into the refrigerator (we took the handle off previously to keep her out). Helpfully, she will pull out the milk and chocolate syrup and let you know when its the optimal time for you to make her tasty treat.

So, once again, I was on the search for a healthier alternative. I thought it would be super cool to get a neat container and decorate it for her so she knew it was just for her. But first, I needed an Elora approved healthy alternative. HeavenlyHomemakers to the rescue with her Homemade Healthier Chocolate Milk recipe ! If you go to the website, I made the recipe listed first, she has two.  I chose that recipe because it stores in the refrigerator as syrup, where the second recipe is for more of a treat as it makes a blender full of chocolate milk.

Elora loved it! She now pulls that out of the refrigerator instead of the store bought stuff...unless of course, we are out of the homemade stuff!

  • 1 cup sucanat
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Mix sucanat, cocoa, sea salt and water in a medium sauce pan.
  • Whisk ingredients together and cook on medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil.
  • Boil for one minute.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Allow mixture to cool for just a few minutes.
  • Stir in vanilla extract.

Food: Massaged Kale Salad

Buying kale for Elora's smoothies usually means a lot of left-over kale that needs to be used ASAP before it goes limp and blonde (yes, even with ends cut in a glass of water). So I have been exploring recipes and came across this one for a Massaged Kale Salad from

I like that its fast, easy and uses what you already have in your pantry! I also liked that it softened the kale to a more palatable texture. It also packs a nice garlicky punch!

  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 minced anchovy fillet or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Strip leaves from the stems (discard stems).
  2. Wash and dry the leaves.
  3. Tear the leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  4. Add Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy (if using), pepper and salt.
  5. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when the volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning with more Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and/or pepper, if desired

Food: Cauliflower Rice

I had so much success with the Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and Shrimp Chowder that I wanted to push the limits of cauliflower further! HungryToes posted a recipe on her website for Cauliflower Rice! I love this idea!

In case you start to think that cauliflower is white and therefore has no real nutritional value (based on some weight loss diet schemes saying stay away from white stuff like rice, potato, etc), cauliflower helps with digestion with its fiber content, is a strong antioxidant, and a source for omega 3-fatty acids! Great! It has value! Now onward to the recipe!

I paired this with Slow Cooker Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken. Both recipes I enjoyed, just not together! The chicken is more of the consistency of pulled pork. It would be perfect in a bun or a wrap!

The "rice" came out great! It even reheated well for lunch left-overs! I will be testing it with more of a stir-fry where I can see better how it absorbs flavors from a sauce.

  • 1 head of cauliflower cut in to florets
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion chopped
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Oil for cooking (I used coconut oil for this one)
  1. Take your cauliflower and finely chop it. I used a food processor. Another option is to use a grater.
  2. Combine cauliflower, garlic, onion and salt in a bowl and mix together
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan on Med High
  4. Add cauliflower mixture
  5. Stir regularly until you see the cauliflower "fluff" up and change color. This will be subtle so keep your eyes on it. It should take about 7-8 minutes
  6. Serve warm

Food: Paleo Skirt Steak with Balsamic Mushroom Reduction

I have been trying to break outside the habit of cooking primarily chicken for my meals. Its easy and cheap, but to stick with primarily 1 protein in the diet really limits the nutrient spectrum.

While searching for some beef recipes, I came across this one Paleo Skirt Steak with Balsamic Mushroom Reduction from HungryToes

I loved that this recipe uses skirt steak, cheaper cut of meat but tender and flavorful. I also appreciated that it uses balsamic vinegar instead of wine. I like my wine, don't get me wrong, but the hubby isn't a fan of it in recipes from a taste perspective. This recipe was quick, simple and had more flavor than I had anticipated! I could even see this being incorporated into a weekly meal plan, it was that easy!

  • 1 lb skirt steak cut into 4 pieces (it usually comes in one long cut)
  • 8-10 white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves minced or finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp dried chopped onion (I used powered onion because I didn't have dried chopped onion)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil

  1. In a small bowl mix chopped onion, oregano, and basil.
  2. Toss your steak into the dry mix and make sure all pieces are coated.
  3. Take a medium frying pan and add your ghee or oil.
  4. Set to medium high.
  5. Add minced garlic.
  6. Add steak.
  7. About 5 minutes in, add mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and water.
  8. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  9. Turn steak on other side and simmer another 5 minutes.
  10. At this point, the sauce should be thickening, almost to the point that there is no liquid. This is when you know it's ready to eat.
  11. Remove from heat.
  12. Serve warm.

My Favorite Stuff: Crock Lunch Warmer

Initially, I was looking at thermoses to bring my lunch to work. For several reasons, I am trying to avoid the microwave. I am not concerned at this point in my journey the health impacts of standing too close while it is running. What I am concerned about is my food. I work hard creating nutrient dense food for my body and hate the thought of losing any of the benefits because I "nuked" my food. The timing also worked out well because work is remodeling the cafeteria, which means higher traffic for the microwaves on our floor.

I thought the thermos would be a good idea. Warm the food at home on the stove, into the thermos, hot and ready for lunch. But then I can across the 20-ounce Lunch Warmer from Crock-Pot and its brilliant!

Mornings are difficult trying to get myself and the kids ready for out-the-door by 8am. I certainly don't have to do as much as most. Kids get breakfast at daycare, I don't have to pack them lunches or snacks. But like most households with kids, there is always something to veer a morning routine into a ditch.

My point is, this crock has some great advantages over the thermos taking this into consideration.

  1. I don't have to pre-heat my meal! I simply pack my breakfast (usually some sort of scrambled egg, cheese, veggie combo) into the crock! When I get to work, I plug it in and my breakfast is ready in 30 minutes. It might be ready sooner, haven't checked. Usually it takes me 30 minutes to settle in, checking email and crafting some quick responses to emails or running off to a meeting. This will not cook the food, simply reheats it! Great for those days with back to back meetings when I might not get back to my desk for an hour.
  2. I can also pack a lunch that will need heating! All I have to do is clean the stainless steel insert, throw in my lunch and BAM! another hot meal without having to buy another thermos! 2 hot meals, 1 piece of equipment!
  3. It has a nice handle, its light, and fits into my daily bag of holding. I really hate carrying a bunch of stuff into work. 1 bag to rule them all and it fits.
A word of caution though, the insert has a "lid", I say this loosely because it does not screw on. There is also an outer lid that does screw on, but not really as a seal. What this means is that liquids will leak if you have it on it side...why would you store it like this? No clue, but just sayin...don't.

The two lid system is also nice because it contains the smell of your heating food. Which I guess your cube buddies will appreciate.

I have taken this to work and over to a friend's courteous is that, no dishes to clean up afterwards! I love it and can't recommend it enough!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Favorite Stuff: Canning Jars

After making my first batch of bone broth, I realized that I was going to need more storage containers…a lot more. Both for storing in the refrigerator and for freezing. Typically, I use some version of Tupperware. A lot of opinions have been traveling around about plastics…which ones are safe…under what conditions. Well, I will let the world sort that out. I decided to invest in glass. Canning jars specifically.
·         Wide mouths for easy access with measuring or dinner spoon
·         Glass, so no leaching concerns into food
·         They now make ones that can be frozen
·         They can be microwaved, yes…sans the ring and seal
·         They can be used to actually can foods! Brilliant!
·         Glass is preferred when using essential oils for health/beauty products
For my storage needs , I purchased the following:
4 ounce wide mouth canning jars – these are perfect for storing the golden flax seed and Spirulina that I use for Elora’s smoothies everyday,  and to store the flour I use for preparing Adam’s oatmeal. Since I purchase in smaller quantities for these ingredients, they are the perfect size!
8 ounce wide mouth canning jars – these are great for storing serving sized portions in the refrigerator or the freezer
Pint and a 1/2 wide mouth canning jars – I love these to be able to freeze stuff like chicken broth and beef broth. Little more capacity, but not obnoxious and not serving sized.
Quart size wide mouth canning jars – These are for high capacity storage. These cannot go into the freezer, but for bulk dry goods and broth that will be used for a higher serving recipe these work great

So far, I have stored bone broth both in the freezer and in the refrigerator using these. I froze the beef and mushroom stew in single serving portions. This is fabulous because I just grab it out of the freezer as I walk out the door to work. It doesn’t leak in my bag, like I experienced with the Tupperware so many times. And I can throw it in the microwave to heat up. They are also a conversation starter, because how often to you see someone throwing a canning jar into the microwave for lunch?! Not only have they started conversations of “what are you doing”…but, ”what are you eating”? Total opportunity to share the love and some recipes to boot!

Food: Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo

A long time back I experimented with a recipe for au gratin cauliflower. The recipe and the reviewers said it mimicked the real thing and no one noticed that it was cauliflower instead of potato! I was fascinated and quickly made up a batch for a healthier solution to a “naughty” side dish. In my opinion and my husband’s it was a failure. We weren’t impressed, we weren’t fooled, and it certainly didn’t keep me interested to try out other cauliflower mystery ingredient recipes.
More recently, however, I was making Shrimp Chowder. This recipe uses cauliflower and zucchini puree to create a healthy, creamy, thick base for the chowder. No dairy needed! It was a huge success with both my husband and me, and my quest for other cauliflower mystery ingredients had been re-engaged!
I decided to push the limits and try out a cauliflower puree base alfredo sauce recipe. Yep, really reaching for the brass ring on this one, I know. But what if, would that not be truly amazing!?
Here is the base recipe as posted by, Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo. Here is the recipe written out with either my changes or suggestions (bold and italics).
·         1 lb. uncooked fettuccine noodles
·         3 small heads cauliflower (I used 2 heads)
·         6 cups vegetable broth (I used 6 cups of Chicken Bone Broth)
·         6 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 tablespoon butter
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         pinch of nutmeg
·         pinch of black pepper
·         1 tablespoon olive oil
·         ¼ cup heavy cream (I used coconut milk)
·         1 cup starchy boiling water from pasta pot (I used left over Chicken Bone Broth)

1.       Chop the cauliflower. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil over medium high heat and add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes. In my experience, the longer you cook it, the smoother the sauce will be. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat (very large high rimmed skillet! You will end up adding the sauce back to this pan later!) . Add the minced garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until soft and fragrant.
2.       As the garlic and cauliflower are cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the fettuccine according to directions on package, reserving some of the starchy water to add to the sauce later (Again, I had more broth than I needed so I used the bone broth).
3.       Transfer cauliflower to a blender with about 2 cups of the broth. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender (Using just 2 heads, I had to split the cauliflower into 2 batches). Add the sautéed garlic, salt, nutmeg, and black pepper and puree until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture is moving, stream the olive oil into the blender. Add more broth or water if the mixture is too thick to move through the blender. You want it to turn through the blender easily. When puree is very smooth, transfer back to the butter/garlic skillet. (I didn’t have to add additional broth or water. Each batch I ran through the blender had half of the sautéed garlic, salt, nutmeg, and black pepper and 2 cups of the broth)
4.       Add the cream and cook over low heat. Add the starchy pasta water (or regular water if you’re not making pasta) and keep warm until ready to serve. Combine noodles and sauce in a large pot or skillet and serve immediately.
Author Notes
The sauce will “dry out” a little bit as it cools on the pasta. Adding a little water to the leftovers will help make it creamy again. Serving size is ⅛ of the noodles with about 1 cup of sauce.

My Notes
·         I served with spinach and chicken breast that we ended up just mixing into the pasta.
·         I need more garlic taste and it needed more salt, so I added a generous amount of garlic salt. My husband enjoyed it, but felt it needs some work deepening the flavors. But we also have not had the left-overs yet, the tastes may have developed.
·         I did let the sauce/pasta mixture sit for about 10 minutes before serving. It seemed to allow the sauce to set. But I had also added 2 more cups of broth than what the recipe called for as a result of me splitting the cauliflower into 2 batches when blending.
·         Since I am not focusing on calories, I added a garnish amount of parmesan to the top of mine. I would recommend a high quality parmesan/reggiano combo or nutritional yeast to add a cheese punch. I also feel this would help with my husband’s complaint regarding the deepening flavors.
·         My next batch will involve seafood. I think this would be a brilliant base for a shrimp/scallop combo or crab alfredo. With the addition of some Old Bay Seasoning, I could see this being very successful!
·         Also, for my next batch, I would like to do some more experimenting with the noodle options. I would like to stick with a flat noodle, so the kelp noodles aren’t a preferred option in terms of shape. I might entertain one of the Miracle Noodle options, but I am not thrilled with the ingredient listing, or something similar.
I chalk this recipe up as a success. While I will still do some modifications, for my own personal preferences, it’s a great base recipe to play with! I will post updates as I keep tweaking!

Update 6/29/2013:
I didn't realize it at the time, but this made a great baby food as well! Ian, my 9 month old loved the sauce. And why not? Its basically cauliflower puree with some healthy broth and some spices. He didn't like the noodles so much. But as I was eating the left overs I would share the sauce and bits of spinach with him. A dish the ENTIRE family can enjoy, bonus!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Favorite Things: Bathtub Overflow Cover

SERIOUSLY, my most favorite thing of 2013! If I were Oprah, all of my friends and family would have one! I read about it on one of the blogs that I follow.

I love the concept of baths, but I don't own a soaker tub. If I am going through the trouble and water to bathe, I want all my important parts covered. I want to be soaking in that tub, chin deep in water so hot that it makes your scalp sweat...but that's another topic.

This soft plastic cap attaches to the tub with little suction cups and covers your current overflow plate. I was skeptical at first. But for $7.24, I was willing to take the risk. It totally works! I was able to fill the tub all the way up to the ridge of the tub (Only recommend this if you are in it first! Water displacement baby!). I was up to my chin in hot Epsom salt water, no lights, and door locked. All important parts covered!

Here is the link to the item on Amazon: Better Bath Deep Water Bath

For all you bathers out there or those that potentially could be ... this is totally worth the investment!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Food: Lemon SARDINE Quinoa

Yes, you read that correctly, SARDINES. I found a recipe on that started my new sardine journey. When I was little, my grandmother and I used to eat sardines in mustard sauce on saltine crackers with a cup of sugar/milk/coffee. It was awesome. But sardines are not just a snack food and not just for saltine crackers.
Here is the first recipe that I tried. I am putting a link here to the original recipe. But I changed quite a bit so I am listing my version separately. Plus! This recipe is actually 2 recipes in 1 in my opinion! You can stop at step# 4 and have some fantastically flavored quinoa…or keep going and have a meal that is salty, light, and a great source of protein and omega -3!
Lemon Sardine Quinoa
·         1 cup uncooked quinoa
·         2 cups chicken broth (I used my chicken bone broth)
·         2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
·         2 tbsp lemon juice (1 whole lemon freshly squeezed)
·         ½ tsp ground pepper
·         ¼ tsp salt
·         1 -  3 to 4 ounce can of sardines in water
·         ½ of a 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
·         2 cloves of minced garlic

1.       Prepare quinoa using the chicken broth as per the package directions. I put the chicken broth and quinoa into a pot. Brought it up to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and check in 15-20 minutes. Liquid should be absorbed.
2.       Whisk lemon juice, 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper in a small bowl.
3.       Put 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a pan with the minced garlic. Heat until fragrant less than a minute.
4.       Add the lemon/oil mixture and the garlic/oil mixture to the cooked quinoa
5.       TASTE THAT BAD BOY! YOU COULD TOTALLY STOP HERE BECAUSE ITS SO FREAKING AMAZING! But we are on a sardine journey, remember, so keep going…it’s worth it!
6.       Add tomato sauce and sardines (water drained) to the pan. Mix, the sardines should fall apart in the pan creating chunks or you can flake before adding to the pan. Let this heat through, a minute or two.
7.       Add tomato sauce/sardines to the quinoa and mix thoroughly
You can add Parmesan cheese on top if you want!

Food: Gummy Candy

Elora asks for 2 things EVERY day, without fail. The moment she opens her eyes in the morning, “Make my smoothie, please”. Okay, she’s 2. Some days it’s please.  Other days, princess has more important matters than manners. The second request/demand is when she comes through the door after school, “Gummies!”
My husband eats a handful of gummy bears after a workout for the dextrose. By having them in the house means sharing with Elora. Not only because we are weak to her excited enthusiasm, but hey, we all ate them as kids and we are not foaming at the mouth, right? Well, after doing some research, because I don’t need a sugar addicted child, it’s amazing what commercial gummy bear makers put in there that is not necessary and up for debate in terms of health (such as food colorings).
This started my journey to see if I could make a healthier version that I would not mind giving to Princess as a treat. As Mommypotamus puts it, “…these babies loaded with high quality protein and helpful when it comes to healing digestive disorders, they’re also rich in an essential nutrient for gorgeous skin, lustrous hair, and strong nails – collagen! The amino acids which increase your metabolism and balance your hormones? Well, they’re just the icing on top!”
  Thanks Mommypotamus for posting this recipe, my comments are in italics:

Sour Gummy Stars


  •  3 tablespoons grassfed gelatin (where to buy grassfed gelatin)
  •  1/3 cup lemon/lime juice (you can also use water and just add extra lemon or orange oil)
  • 3 tablespoons honey (where to buy good quality honey)
  • Optional – Non-toxic, vegetable-based food coloring (I used India Tree) (The health food store I shop at had this set for $12. I decide since I was in experimentation phase, I could skip this and always do it later if I felt the need)
  • Optional – A few drops of lemon extract or food grade lemon/orange oil (I did not add because I wanted to see what the base tasted like first to determine if extracts would be needed)

Easy Peasy Instructions:

  1.  Whisk lemon/lime juice, honey and gelatin in a sauce pan until there are no lumps.
  2. Heat over low heat until it’s nice and melty, stirring constantly.
  3.  Add food coloring and/or extract  if desired – you’re almost done now!
  4.   Grab an ice cube tray or silicone mold (I don’t recommend silicone usually but since we’re not baking with it here I think its fine). You can use a basic pan, too, and then just cut into squares or use a cookie cutter after its set. (I used the ice cube tray method. Little difficult to pry out. I had to use a steak knife. Since they were so successful, I will venture to get some silicone candy molds.)
  5.  Pour in the mixture and then pop in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up. Once they’re out of the freezer they will stay firm at room temperature.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  7. Enjoy!
They turned out fantastic! At first Elora was confused…these were squares…she wanted gummies and those are shaped like BEARS mom! But I convinced her to try it and she loved them. She asks for more, I don’t feel guilty providing…and I even take one as my reward for my efforts in servitude!

Food: Kale Chips...the Journey

I have been buying Kale now for a couple of weeks for Elora’s smoothies. The problem is, I purchase a bundle of Kale and before I use it all, the poor things are losing their color and going limp. I started cutting off the ends and putting them on the counter in a cup of water, which seemed to help a lot. However, my feline, fuzzy butt, ninja counter assassins would execute their kill orders on-site.
Then, I found some recipes for Kale chips! Some of the reviews described them as a great substitute for potato chips…Lays, not Ruffles.
Most of the recipes were the same. Kale chips, olive oil, salt, low temp oven.
This will be a work in process, I will share what I did for the first attempt.
·         Preheat oven to 300 degrees
·         Rinse Kale in water.
·         Use paper towels or dry kitchen towel to thoroughly dry the Kale.
·         Remove leaves from the tough stems (like you would to prepare swiss chard)
·         In a large bowl, mix 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of soy sauce
·         Gently mix in the large bowl until the Kale is evenly coated with the oil/soy sauce mixture
·         Arrange the coated Kale on a baking sheet in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches)
·         Sprinkle coarse salt over the Kale
·         Place baking sheets into oven for an intended 30 minutes (mine only took 10)
This is what I learned.
·         I would recommend the use of parchment paper. I had to use a frosting knife to scrape the Kale off the baking sheet.
·         Mine did not look anything like in the pictures of the recipes that I researched. The pictures show dark green, fluffy but crisp leaves. Mine were VERY flat…remember the frosting knife…and velum thin.
·         After putting them into a Tupperware container, they seemed to rehydrate a little. They must have been a little too warm to put in there, but they ended up being a little meatier that way.
·         I think next time I will try a lower temp and check them every 5 minutes to monitor the crispiness and see if I can’t catch them before they go flat…like someone stuck them into a memory book flat…so sad.
I will give an update when I attempt a second batch! The flavor was really good, nice and salty. Definitely crispy! If I can get them to be a touch meatier then I can totally see me using leftovers from Elora’s smoothie needs for snacking!

Food: Poached Chicken and Chicken Bone Broth

I wanted to share a recipe of Chinese Poached Chicken. This is a super easy process that returns crazy, juicy chicken meat. My father introduced me to this method and read it in the The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith. After pulling off the meat, I use the bones to make a bone broth. Those instructions are following the Poached Chicken recipe.

Poached Chicken
1 whole chicken (3lbs)

Fill a 12 quart kettle almost full of water and bring it to a boil.
Place 1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds, in the boiling water.
The water will stop boiling in just a moment or so. Using wooden spoons so that you do not tear the skin, remove the chicken from the water and place it on a tray.
Cover the pot and bring the water back to a boil.
Put the chicken back into the pot, cover and turn off the heat.
Leave the chicken in the pot and the pot on the burner, but you will need no more heat. The water will be hot enough to cook the bird. After 1 hour the chicken is done. Remove and cool and debone it. Some of the poaching water can be used to cover the meat or use the meat for other chicken dishes that calls for cooked chicken.

Bone Broth
After pulling the meat off, I then put the bones back into the water. I brought the water back up to a boil,  brought back down to a simmer and covered. I let it simmer for 3 days to create a bone broth from chicken. Any recipe that calls for chicken broth I will use this instead. I can also use it to sub out water when making rice or quinoa.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Food: Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Vegetables

I needed a recipe that was fast, tasty, and something different that the typical chicken salad to use up the chicken meat I had from making my chicken bone broth. I ran across several Thai recipes, but the ingredient lists were lengthy or used things which I was not familiar.

Just needed something fast...I was not looking for a food journey...then I found EatingWell. Not only did he have this yummy recipe for me, the ingredients were short and sweet AND he had the calorie/fat/carb/protein breakdown that my husband was going to require. This would totally save me time calculating that out!

Off to the store!

I had been wanting to get a jar of natural peanut butter. Elora is on this big peanut butter kick, so I wanted something without all the additives and sugar. I wasn't particularly thrilled about the fresh ginger. The roots, IMO, are big and the quantity required is small, it's something I do not have experience using so I don't have recipes that call for it to use up the surplus. Then, I found a small jar in the cooler of freshly minced ginger! WIN! I will have what I need for the recipe and a little surplus for experimenting! I was also not thrilled with the whole-wheat spaghetti. My husband wants low carbs and I am trying to find better options to wheat. But there is was! On the shelf, Kelp Noodles! So much for this not being a food journey! My concern was, they were going to be either too stiff or too gelatinous for a noodle substitute.

This recipe took no time at all considering I already had the chicken cooked and cut up from 2 days ago and the kelp noodles are already prepared! All you have to do is take them out of the bag, rinse, and incorporate into your recipe!

My husband came home wanting to know what the fabulous smell was! He took a fork full and was happy! Even happier after I gave him the stats WITH the whole-wheat spaghetti, happier still after hearing the stats would be even less and he could eat even more! Chicken dinner baby!

Here is the link to the original recipe at EatingWell: Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken & Vegetables

Here is the recipe with my modifications:


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 1 lb leftover chicken cut-up)
  • 1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 8 ounces kelp noodles
  • 1 12-ounce bag frozen vegetable medley, such as carrots, broccoli, snow peas
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  1. Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, chile-garlic sauce, chicken broth and ginger in a large bowl.
  2. Follow the heating instructions on the vegetables.
  3. Combine vegetables, chicken, sauce and noodles in a skillet and heat.
  4. Serve warm or chilled.
I ate this for dinner while it was warm and the next day ate it chilled for lunch. Fabulous both ways!

Food: No Dairy Shrimp Chowder

I thought it was going to be difficult to balance my husband's food needs, my own needs, and still have something tasty for the kids to want to eat! I found this recipe on Mommypotamus, who gives credit to Lauren at Empowered Sustenance, and I was intrigued. It was healthy! It was creamy! It fit into my husband's meal guidelines for calories/carbs/fat/protein. I was excited to have yet another recipe that utilized the bone broth I had just made AND it was fun with some unexpected ingredients!

I had yet to venture into the realm of coconut milk. This recipe uses it! That was a bonus. But more so, it was the fact that the base of the chowder was cauliflower and zucchini puree! Now THAT is a challenge to win past my husband!

I gathered up the ingredients, followed the success! Not only did my husband love it, saying he could eat the whole pot, but my 2 year old liked it as well! Sweet! Its thick, creamy, a tad spicy, and the amount of shrimp the recipe calls for gives each bite shrimpy goodness! I will definitely be putting this into my menu rotation, along with experimenting with other seafood in substitution of or partnering with the shrimp!

Here is the link to the recipe: Dairy Free Shrimp Chowder

Here is the recipe:

Dairy Free Shrimp Chowder (GAPS)

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 medium zucchini, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (I used the beef bone broth I made)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. fat of choice: lard, coconut oil, or butter if dairy is okay (I used butter)
  • 12 oz fully cooked shrimp 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Place the cauliflower florets, zucchini, and broth in the slow cooker. Cook on high for about 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours until the cauliflower is very tender. (You can also steam the veggies until tender instead of using a slow cooker and just add the broth in the next step).
  2. Carefully pour the vegetables and liquid into a blender. Puree with the coconut milk, Old Bay, dijon, lemon juice, and fat. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more broth or coconut milk.
  3. Chop the shrimp into small chunks. Place the shrimp and pureed soup base into the slow cooker or a pot on the stove and warm through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes about 5-6 cups, and the recipe is easily doubled.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Food: Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew

The first recipe I made with my bone broth is this recipe from Holistic Squid, Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew!

This is super easy and super tasty! It is also the first recipe I have made with grass-fed beef! My husband enjoyed the recipe, but felt that the meat was a tad tough. This is totally my fault. I tend to leave the cooker on for longer than stated in the recipe. Partly due to laziness and partly due to schedule. I am actually looking into investing in a new slow cooker since my roast size cooker died! More on that later!

The other reason I think the meat was a little tough is because I put the meat on the bottom of the crock instead of the veggies. I also did not brown the meat first.
I didn't do that because
                         1. the recipe did not call for it
                         2. remember this laziness condition I mentioned?

Overall, I really enjoyed the results and packed the leftovers into mason jars...yes, mason jars that are able to go into the freezer! BRILLIANT! I left 4 individual servings in the refrigerator for lunches and dinners and froze the rest in individual servings! I also froze the rest of the stock.

Here is the recipe:

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew Ingredients

  • 2 pounds stew meat, cubed
  • 2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole stewed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3 cup pearled barley
  • 2 cups beef bone broth A few sprigs thyme, tied with twine
  • Good quality salt and pepper to taste

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew Method

  1. Place all ingredients except for barley in the slow cooker set to low and cover.
  2. After 4 hours, add the pearled barley and continue cooking – or if you will be away all day, simply add the barley in step 1.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until meat pulls apart easily with a fork.
  4. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Food: Bone Broth

I have been reading about the amazing health benefits of bone broth. The process is lengthy, but not difficult. What is the flavor comparison between boxed or canned broths compared to one you have made...there is none.

What about those health benefits:
  • assists in healing the lining of the gut
  • boosts the immune system
  • strengthens bones, joints, tendons
  • healthy skin and strong teeth
For more information on the health benefits this is a nice article that describes more in depth: Bone Broth Health Benefits

To the local health food store I went! I have pieced recipes together from several sources. This is my broth journey.

Picked me up some marrow bones to get the process going, 3lbs to be a bit more descriptive! I filled a stockpot 1/2 full of water and put it on the stove. I did not turn the burner on, I had read that you should slowly heat the water up with the bones inside for maximum goodness extraction. Almost all the sources recommended roasting the bones prior to get a richer taste. I roasted the bones at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, turning frequently so as not to char or scorch the bones. Once they were done, into the pot they went! I turned the burner to medium, brought it up to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer. I didn't turn it off until 2.5 days later!

Several sources talked about adding veggies and garlic to the pot, but I wanted a very neutral stock so that I could flavor it according to whatever recipe I was making, or flavor it as I drink a mug of it. Kinda creepy, yes, I know. I will get back to that later.

During the process it smells like cooking meat in your house...for 3 browning meat without onions. It didn't bother me or anyone else (that I know of), just something to mention.

At the end, I poured the broth through a fine metal strainer. Picked out the bones and clumps of marrow and put them in a freezer bag to save for another batch. I had read that you can reuse the bones up to six times. Not too sure how I feel about it. I am sure technically you could, but there are only so many nutrients in those bones. I will be researching that to see what others have to say.

I put the strained liquid into the fridge and allowed the tallow (fat) to rise to the top and solidify. Let me tell you, this is not your mother's gravy fat!! I cut that stuff with a steak knife into pie shaped pieces while it was still in the pot sitting on the broth! It was SO cool. I put that into a container to be used as cooking fat later. The broth went into several containers for freezing and some into the fridge for some upcoming recipes such as this Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew.

Being the curious person I am, and since I have been smelling it for 3 days, I poured myself a small mug of it, added some garlic salt (it was 2:00am and I was coming down from a Game of Thrones adrenaline rush and didn't feel culinary ... curious ... but not culinary). I heated it up and tell you the truth...not bad! I think it has some great potential for drinking, but I am going to place with some ingredients before I say that practice will be a daily ritual for me! I can tell you that it made for an awesome base in the stew recipe mentioned above!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Food: Fit Two New Healthy Breakfasts into Menu Rotation, Oatmeal

Here is the second option I am considering aside from the healthier smoothie. This one was inspired to give my husband a healthier breakfast option to replace his instant oatmeal that he currently eats. While researching healthy oatmeal recipes, I have been educated as to the proper methods to preparing grains. Techniques that our grandmothers used, long forgotten to several of us and replaced by instant or quicker methods.

Go here for more information on the hows and whys of soaking grains to get maximum nutrients : how and why to soak grains. Plus she gives some tasty recipes! In short, soaking breaks down the components of the grains that are difficult to digest. Soaking with an acid medium (such as adding apple cider vinegar to the soaking water) will help active an enzyme called phytase. This enzyme helps to break down phytates (hard to digest...speed bumps to absorbing nutrients).

Other techniques are sprouting or souring. You can read more about those in her article. I am preparing soaking is my method!

I am using one of her recipes to experiment with and see if my husband will enjoy this tasty, nutritional substitution! If so, this will then be incorporated into my weekly breakfast rotation on even days.

Here is the recipe link: Soaked Oatmeal Recipe

Here is the recipe:
Soaked Oatmeal (Gluten-Free Option)
Yield: 2 servings
    Step One: Soaking
  • 1 cup organic GF Rolled Oats (not quick cook)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice)
  • 1 tbsp rolled rye flakes (if *GF, see note below)
  • Pinch of Celtic sea salt
  • Step Two: Cooking
  • 1 1/4 cup plain almond milk (or raw whole milk)
  • 1/3 cup your favorite dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries or a combo)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pure organic maple syrup to taste (about 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp)
    Step One: Soaking Instructions
  1. Place above ingredients into a ceramic (or glass) mixing bowl or jar. Add enough warm filtered water to completely cover the mixture by 1-2 inches. Mix well to combine.
  2. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm area of your kitchen for 12-24 hours.
  3. Step Two: Cooking Instructions
  4. Once soaking time is completed, drain oat mixture in a fine-mesh strainer and gently rinse.
  5. Add drained oat mixture to a small saucepan. Add milk and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn down heat and add dried fruit and cinnamon. Stir frequently and continue to simmer another couple of minutes or so, until oatmeal is cooked to desired consistency.
  6. Sweeten with maple syrup to taste. Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with a splash of milk.
* For my GF Friends: If you’re gluten-free and can tolerate oats, I recommend using certified GF Rolled Oats and combining them with ground buckwheat groats (not rye) for your soak. Buckwheat is actually a fruit, not a grain, and is completely gluten-free. It's often sold as buckwheat "cereal" (because it's slightly ground).
Substitutions: If you do not have access to rolled rye flakes, you can always use rye, whole spelt or whole wheat flour for your soak.
Alternate Serving Option: Follow above recipe, except do not include dried fruit, cinnamon and maple syrup. Instead, sweeten to taste using raw honey. Then, ladle cooked oatmeal into a bowl and top with a dollop of plain whole milk yogurt and fresh seasonal berries.

I will post the results next week!

***Update 6/5/2013***

I have been making the oatmeal now since Saturday. I have been getting the process under my belt, streamlining the best I can. It does take some getting used to, if you want it for breakfast everyday. Personally, I am switching between the Go-Green Smoothie and Oatmeal in the mornings. However, my husband eats it every morning. So I need to make sure there is a cooked serving ready! When I say "cooked", that means the oats have soaked overnight and I have cooked up the oats with almond milk and cinnamon! Adam enjoys it, and has started using mixed berries as a yummy addition. Much healthier than the instant stuff! I have enough ingredients to do one more batch (2 servings), which will get us to Saturday. The next experiment will be to do one large batch on Sunday and we will reheat servings through out the week!

***Update 6/11/2013***

It worked! I made the huge batch of oatmeal that will last us through the week! So far we have been reheating our individually packed breakfasts and the consistency has been just fine! I apparently was thin handed on the cinnamon, but that is easily fixed for the individual servings (just add more to taste) and I will be sure to up the amount for the large batch come Sunday!