Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate Roasted Almonds

I love this recipe for several reasons.  The almonds are soaked & then roasted or dehydrated, which reduces the phytic acid (see my tab "why soak").  There is no refined sugar in it, only maple syrup or honey.  And the best reason to like it is that I can reach for them when I'm having a chocolate craving, but it gives me protein also.  These would also be a unique & yummy "no clutter" gift to give to someone.
Chocolate Roasted (or Dehydrated) Almonds
2 cups almonds
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Place almonds in a bowl or container and cover with water.  Add salt & swirl around to mix.  Cover and allow to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.  After soaking, drain and allow to air dry for 2 hours.

1 Tbsp. oil (olive or coconut oil)
2 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey (I used honey)
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and add almonds.  Stir to coat completely.  Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  To roast, bake at 250 for one hour or until nuts are crunchy, not soft.  Or alternately, you can dehydrate these at lower temperatures for longer periods of time.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I dehydrated these using the lowest temperature setting on my oven for several hours during the day, then I turned off the oven and allowed the nuts to stay in the warm oven for several more hours.


this post is a part of Tuesday Twister

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sourdough Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Bread

A few weeks ago I decided I should start baking some pumpkin recipes to try to get myself into the "season" more.  You see although I come from Washington state, where winter has been in full swing, in Rwanda everyday is pretty much the same weather: 70 to 80 degrees and sunny except when the rainstorms come in.  It's been hard for me to convince myself that the holiday season is fully here, because my surroundings keep telling me it's summer!

I found out they do grow pumpkin here, so I decided to make my own puree to bake with.  Of course nothing is exactly the same as what we're used to: the pumpkins are green (other things that are green even when ripe here: mandarins, lemons, apples, and starchy bananas called matoke).  The flesh of the pumpkin was very pale & did not have as strong of a flavor as what we get from our pumpkins in the US, but it still worked.  One of the recipes I tried with my puree was this Sourdough Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls recipe from the Coconut Mama blog

Instead of the cinnamon & pumpkin pie spices recommended in the recipe I used something that's sold in every store here: it's called tea masala.  It's a spice blend they use to make African tea (a spiced milk tea that we would call Chai).  The tea masala ingredients are: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, black pepper, and nutmeg.  I love it & it worked great in this recipe! 

Sourdough Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Bread
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 3/4 - 4 cup flour
5 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, softened
3 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, softened
2 Tablespoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice or chai spices* or a combination!

Combine flour, salt, and spices in a large bowl.  Add 5 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, honey, pumpkin and sourdough starter and mix well.  Knead dough for 10 minutes (add more flour as needed to make a smooth dough).  Cover bowl and let dough rest for 6 to 8 hours. 

Knead dough for 5 minutes then roll out into a rectangle shape of about 1/2" thickness (thinner for more rolls, thicker for less).  Spread with 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter.  Mix together sugar & spices and sprinkle on top. 

Starting at one of the short ends of the rectangle, roll the dough up with the spices inside.  Using a sharp knife or plain dental floss*, cut through the dough about every 1 to 2 ".  Place in an oiled or buttered pan (I used two bread pans to make cinnamon roll pull-apart bread).  Rolls should be just gently touching each other.  Cover and allow to rise for another 2 or 3 hours.

After the dough is done rising preheat the oven to 375.  Bake for about 20 minutes.

My family enjoyed just pulling off a roll when we wanted a snack.  Because it was a snack food & not a sweet dessert I didn't feel the need to add any frosting.  If you want frosting, The Coconut Mama recommends 8 ounces of soft cream cheese mixed with 4 Tablespoons of honey.

*Did you know dental floss works great for cutting rolls?  Just take a piece about 8 inches long, slide it under the log of dough, pull the ends across to the opposite side like you're going to tie it, and pull until the floss cuts all the way through.  I always make sure I use unflavored floss though!

*To make your own Chai (tea masala) spice mix, combine:
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (ground)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
1/2 teaspoon ginger (ground)
1/4 teaspoon allspice (ground) and/or nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves (ground)
pinch black pepper (ground)

Mix well & store in an airtight container.  Besides adding to your tea or coffee, try using it in baking wherever you would use cinnamon, and even in your oatmeal!

This post is a part of Monday Mania.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Sourdough Cake

I almost called this Chocolate Coconut Sourdough Snack Cake, because it is a cake which doesn't require frosting (although you are certainly welcome to add it), and if it doesn't have frosting you can snack on it anytime of day, right?   Well, maybe!  I shared with you in my last post how I have been using sourdough as my primary source for bread, pancakes, and other things, and briefly why.  You may not think that sourdough & a sweet dessert cake are possible to have together, but you must try this!  It is moist, tender, and really does not have that much sugar for a dessert.

You will notice the directions indicate you can use between 1 and 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  The amount you use is going to depend on how long you let your batter "sour" and your personal preference.  I accidentally forgot about my batter and let it sit for too long.  I first added 1 cup of sugar, but when I sampled the batter I knew it needed the additional 1/2 cup.  I also wanted to help it out more by adding in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut.

This is only a slightly  modified version of the Chocolate Sourdough Cake from The Nourishing Gourmet.  If you would like to add frosting to your cake, you can check out GNOWFGLINS where she shares her version of the recipe (with spelt flour) and a coconut cream frosting - - which would be divine on this cake!

Chocolate Coconut Sourdough Cake
1 cup recently fed sourdough starter
1 cup of raw milk, diluted coconut milk, or water
2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (mine was regular whole wheat flour)
1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar (raw sugar, maple sugar, or palm sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup melted coconut oil*
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/.4 cup cocoa powder**
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional- I used Pero, Teeccino also works)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded coconut

1.  6 to 18 hours ahead of time you will make the sourdough mixture.  Combine the starter, milk, and flour in a large bowl.  Allow to rest at room temperature.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 and rub a 9x13 pan with oil.

3.  In a medium bowl cream together the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, and optional espresso powder (mixture will be grainy).  Then beat in one egg at a time.  Add all of this to the sourdough mixture, as well as shredded coconut.  Gently stir until well combined.

4.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely.

I let my cake cook a little too long and the top seemed burnt, but when I went to cut the burnt part off I tried it & it actually still tasted good- bonus points for that!  *This cake would be best with coconut oil (unrefined for the coconut flavor) but if you don't have any, like me, then you can use olive oil or melted butter.  **The original directions say to not use Dutch processed cocoa, because it is not acidic enough to react with the baking soda.  In other words, using Dutch cocoa could cause the cake not to rise as much.


This post is a part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Real Food Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet on Sourdough

I've been working a lot with sourdough since we arrived in Rwanda.  I prefer to use sourdough in my bread and baked goods because it breaks down some of the gluten in the flour, making it easier to digest, as well as reducing the phytic acid so minerals are more easily absorbed.  

Before we left for Rwanda I decided to dehydrate the starter I had been keeping on in my kitchen.  Since I don't have a dehydrator I came up with a different solution that worked for me.  I poured out a thin layer of starter on a piece of parchment paper.  It was August and we were having 100+ degree days, so I put the parchment paper inside our barbecue (with it turned off) in the morning.  The closed lid kept the bugs off, while being inside the metal of the barbecue magnified the heat and dehydrated my starter for me.

I also brought along a small amount of Oregon Trail Sourdough starter I got from "Carl's Friends".  Once we got here I mixed the two and rehydrated by mixing with a little bit of water, and then adding small amounts of flour and water each day.  I started out with a white flour starter (that's all you can find in the stores here) and then ended up switching it over to spelt flour (after some friends brought me a supply of spelt flour).  I've been trying all kinds of recipes made with sourdough starter: pancakes, crackers, cinnamon rolls, rolls, pizza crust and even chocolate cake!  Here in the next few weeks I hope to share several of these recipes with you.

You can help to keep your starter happy by using it a lot and feeding frequently.  I feed mine a minimum of 1/4 cup of both flour and warm water twice a day when I'm using it, and it works even better if the last feeding I give it (several hours before I use it) is 1/2 cup each (this would be different if you're keeping larger amounts of sourdough than I am- I only have a jar about the size of a mayonaisse jar).  When not using it for a few days I may feed it & put it in the fridge.  When I'm ready to use it again I pull it out at least 8 hours ahead of time & feed it.

Here is my "go to" bread recipe.  It worked well for me both back in the US as well as here.  We are at a high elevation in Rwanda (around 5 or 6 thousand feet) which I've learned causes baked goods to rise more (not as much air pressure pushing down on them).  I'm able to do a shorter rise time (6 hours first rise, 2 hours second rise) which also keeps my bread from getting too sour.  You can experiment to find out what works best for you.  Make sure you use enough flour to make a nice firm dough, because it will get very soft and sticky after souring.  Slash the tops of the loaves before baking to keep them from exploding out the sides! 

Sourdough Bread

1 cup flour (plus additional)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm (not hot) water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup oil (melted coconut oil, or olive oil)
2 Tablespoons honey

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Add additional flour: 1/2 cup at a time, up to 3 or 4 cups.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes before kneading, then knead for 5 to 10 minutes and place in a greased bowl.
Let rise until doubled: about 8 hours, then punch down and form into loaves (flatten and roll up burrito style).  Let rise for an additional 2 to 4 hours.  Heat oven to 350 and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  (If making rolls check after 20 minutes.)


P.S.  If you don't already have a sourdough starter you can make one in just 7 days.  I used the pineapple juice method when I made another one here.  Give it a try!  (Start with low rise items when your starter is young like pizza crust or crackers.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chocolate Banana Muffin Bites

This was my second attempt at making a “flourless” dessert. The first banana bread was a big flop (or should I say glop?). I think the cocoa powder helps here. This originally was written as a cake recipe, but since I don’t have a round cake pan I tried it in a bread pan first. That turned out pretty good, but I knew that if I made them in a cupcake pan it would be easier to get it cooked all the way in the middle (and avoid gloppy-ness). These are yummy & even those who are not trying to go wheat, grain, or gluten free will enjoy them!

Chocolate Banana Muffin Bites

3 eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup honey

¼ cup oil

1 cup mashed (ripe) bananas

½ cup cocoa

Preheat oven to 350. Beat or whip the eggs for 2 minutes (I’m using my rotary mixer I brought to Rwanda with me- remember those?) Add the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly. Grease or insert paper liners in your muffin tin (12 muffins). Evenly distribute the batter in the muffin cups (about 1 inch of batter in each one). Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes & then remove.


This post is a part of Monday Mania, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Real Food Wednesdays.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

I'm really surprised I have not blogged about these awesome little treats before- these need to be in your recipe book right after the healthy mounds/almond joys.  This recipe comes from the Oceans of Joy blog.  I made them here last week (yes, I brought my [half full] gallon of coconut oil here to Rwanda- and now I am seeing the pitiful bottom of my tub... sigh...).  After not having a good treat for a while I was so ready for these & loved having one each day- bliss!

I know these peanut butter cups look a little funky on top, that's because my chocolate mixture started to seize when I was ready to put the top layer on, so I had to just put little dollops of chocolate on each one- still tastes good though!

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups
chocolate layer:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 cup honey (more if you like your chocolate sweeter)
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt the coconut oil (in a skillet or a hot water bath).  Add the rest of the ingredients and combine until smooth.  I used a regular muffin pan (12) for making these, in the past I have used a mini muffin pan also.  Line each muffin cup with a paper liner or oil thoroughly.  Evenly distribute half of your chocolate mixture into the muffin cups (start with about one tablespoon in each one).  Place in refrigerator or freezer to cool.

3/4 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup ground nuts (optional, I did not have them this time)

Melt the coconut oil again, add in honey, vanilla, and peanut butter.  When thoroughly combined stir in the ground nuts.  Evenly distribute the peanut butter filling into each muffin cup.  Top with the remaining chocolate mixture (if you need to, gently reheat it, being careful not to let the chocolate seize).  Refrigerate or freeze until firm.  Store in refrigerator and enjoy this healthy treat!

In my last post I promised you a picture of my kitchen sink, so here it is: 

Use your powers of perception carefully here- notice anything odd about it?  Hmmmm.  How about those interesting spickets for water that only pour into one side of the sink?  Yeah, sometimes the way they do things here just makes you say... "Huh?"  In order to fill the left sink for doing dishes, you have to use a cup to transfer water into that sink.  But, if I haven't said so already, I am very thankful to have a kitchen with counters and cupboards, because the last time we were here our kitchen was just a room with a refrigerator and a table that doubled as a cupboard and work area.

I am also having awesome success here with my sourdough.  I will post another time about how to dehyrdrate sourdough starter (I brought some of mine from home).  I don't know if it's the elevation (5000 ft.), the air, climate, or the flour (there is no such thing as whole wheat flour in these stores, white only) but my starter actually smells like yeast and is making the most amazing bread!  Very exciting for me when at home all I got was super-sour dense bread that no one else in the family would eat!

Hope all your kitchen adventures are successful this week.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wheatless Sucess! Oat Flour Pasta

If you read my last post you know we are trying to eliminate wheat from our diet right now (in addition to several other things).  My first wheat-free baking attempt was not a success at all.  It was a flourless banana zucchini bread that came out of the oven, like, well, mashed bananas, zucchini, and honey- pretty much like it went in.  Not so great. 

I found at the local market here we have some interesting flours: (red) millet flour, rice flour, cassava flour (like tapioca flour I think).  The red millet flour is not original to Rwanda, but rather is for a porridge traditionally fed to children in the neighboring country of Uganda.  I made the porridge first, in spite of it's laughable vague directions: "mix flour with some cold water to make a paste, add to boiling water and cook for a while".  It was very bland, but after generous amounts of vanilla, honey, cinnamon and milk it was a nice sweet porridge.  Millet is supposed to be healthier for you than wheat, and easier to digest.  I wonder if maybe that's why only 2 hours after we ate breakfast we were hungry all over again?

The next thing I decided to try was a recipe I found for oat flour linguine noodles.  We have oats & a blender so we were able to make our own oat flour.  I didn't make quite enough so I added about a 1/4 cup of millet flour (which is why you will see it having the "whole wheat" appearance).  I was actually surprised at how easy the dough was to handle & that it turned out fine.  My kids can't wait for me to make it again!

Oat Flour Linguine Noodles

2 cups oat flour (or 1 3/4 cups plus 1/4 cup other flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons oil
2-4 Tablespoons water

Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  In the center make a well and put the eggs and oil in there.  Slowly whisk these together until dough is crumbly.  Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring after each one, until a nice dough forms.  Knead dough for 5 minutes (I did this both in hand and on a floured counter).  Cover & allow dough to rest.

If you have a pasta extruder - use it!  I however, rolled my dough out onto the counter as thin as I could (which still was not as thin as it should have been- but this did make it easy to transfer to the pot).  Cut into 1/4" strips.

Boil water in a large pot.  Have a timer handy and set for 6 minutes.  Once it's in full boil, transfer noodles to pot (I put mine on a plate & then carefully dropped them into the boiling water- but trying to get them in there as quickly as possible).  Cook for 6 minutes, then drain immediately and serve.
I don't have a picture of the finished product because we were hungry - it was on the table & gone!  I think one of the effects of going off of wheat is you no longer have that satiated feeling - we all feel hungry all the time it seems now!  What do you think?

You see that oatmeal can in the top picture (the oats came from the UK to be sold here).  Well, money is tight for us so I haven't bought mixing bowls, but that can worked as my mixing bowl.  I tried to use it for my rolling pin also, but it was not strong enough, so I grabbed a large plastic bottle of my son's vitamins.  That got the job done good enough!


This post is linked up to Wheatless Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, and Monday Mania.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I Need Help Please!

In my last post for Hearty Pasta Sauce, I forgot to include this picture of the finished sauce- whoops!

I included the container of honey in this picture because I love how the label says "from local forets" (instead of forests).  And make sure you get a load of my little stove/oven...  Isn't it cute-in-a-completely-inadequate-way?  Yeah, I found a nice square pan that fits inside the oven (no 9x13 is going in there).  I made meatloaf the other day in my muffin pan (that I brought from the states) and I had to remove the rack & actually slide my 12 cup muffin pan into the guides for the rack- but I got it in there & it worked!  Now, you've seen my itty-bitty fridge & oven, I'll save for a post for another day the photo of my slightly-unique-and-kinda-odd sink...

I have been reading a book called Disconnected Kids because of some developmental  issues my 6 (almost 7) year old son has been dealing with for some time now.  I have decided we are going to give his program a try (and I've gotten the rest of the family on board).  Besides very specific exercises, part of the program includes modifying what your child eats.  You are supposed to go through an "elimination diet" for at least 4 weeks (quite possibly more), eliminating all foods which could be behavior triggers.  Common triggers include: wheat, dairy, corn, tomatoes, apples, peanuts, yeast, sugar, food additives etc.  (Eggs are supposed to be excluded also, but we've decided that we don't think our son has a problem with them & he needs the morning protein.)

This brings me to my call for "Help!"  As you know, we are here in Rwanda, where you can probably guess that there are no health food stores & not a lot of options food wise period.  At the store I have seen millet flour and rice flour (they use these for porridge).  Grain wise they have rice, quinoa, oatmeal.  I do not have any electronic kitchen devices (no food processor for making flours or nut butters, no electric mixer, the blender we do have just basically stirs, however we do have a crock pot I just bought from another missionary family).

Do you have any recipes that we could use for our family that are free from the triggers listed above?  I know for breakfasts we can have oatmeal or baked oatmeal, eggs, rice porridge, and I might even try making pancakes using millet flour (although my attempt at making home made syrup using honey & maple flavoring was not so great today- their honey has a very strong flavor here).  For dinners we can have things like meat, vegetables, rice, potatoes, soup- but I would like more options & recipes for me to plan what exactly we will be eating & to make sure everything has good flavor.  I would also like ideas for lunches and snacks as well.

Can you help?  Please post your recipes or links in the comments below- I am weary of spending hours scouring the internet for recipes that don't include any of the "offenders" or ingredients that are unavailable (like nuts, special flours, dried fruits, etc.)

I do have some spelt flour coming with a team in a few weeks- that will make many things easier, but until then things are going to be challenging.  I have thought about doing something similar to this in the past, but always pushed aside the idea because my son is picky already & just won't eat a lot of things as it is.  So, here I am, being crazy in Rwanda & giving it a shot.  The good thing is that even though our options are more limited, it also means the temptations for him are a lot less as well.

Thanks for helping if you can!

This post was linked to Fight Back Fridays.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hearty Pasta Sauce

We are here in Rwanda now & although we were greeted by a completely bare kitchen (not even a plate or cup) my kitchen is up & running now (although in a minimal state).   We even have an internet connection - though it is painfully sloooow compared to our high speed in the US.
 I would like to share with you a recipe that I have made several times during past trips here.  As far as feeding your family in Rwanda is concerned, anything not grown or produced locally is going to be expensive.  So, if we are buying pasta we are paying about $1.50 per bag.  And pasta sauce in a jar?  Forget it- probably about $5 or $6 per jar!  That will sure give you some motivation to cook from scratch (well, almost scratch, this recipe does use tomato paste which is used in a lot of recipes here).  This sauce recipe is not a “Ragu” type sauce, but more of a hearty tomato- based vegetable sauce that you can use on pasta or pizza.
I originally got the recipe from the cook at the guest house where we've stayed here in the past, and I am not sure what American or European cookbook she may have got the recipe from.  Here's a picture of the veggies and everything all prepped (I didn't have enough tomatoes so I used extra tomato paste):
And, yes I wanted to show you my hand- can you see that it is stained orange from shredding carrots?  Just in case you wanted to know a possible side effect of cooking from scratch!  That pile of green in the foreground is from prepping green beans.  The green beans they have here are in fact "string beans"- and you have to de-string them.  I was prepping quite a bit more than what we needed for one meal, just to save some for later.  I also brought Italian spices from home, because they don't have much of that here either.  This table is a high table, like bar height- but can you see how short my refrigerator is?  And the freezer inside is just a compartment in the top of it, with no door.  All part of the experience!
Hearty Pasta Sauce
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 Tbsp. oil
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 Tbsp. dried)
4 tsp. Italian seasoning
6 cups tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. honey
salt & pepper to taste

Saute onion & garlic in oil until soft.  Add carrots, peppers, parsley, & Italian seasoning, stir.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, salt, & pepper.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Serve or freeze.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Going "No 'Poo"

Before you get any other ideas, when I say "no poo" I'm using the term that refers to washing your hair without using shampoo= no 'poo!  Why would I want to do that?  Well, you can understand why if you read in Dr. Mercola's newsletter talking about some of the chemicals in shampoo, have you seen this article?

I have been thinking about going "no 'poo" for a while now, but what really gave me the bravery to try was this video blog posted at Keeper of the Home.  Part of my hesitancy stems from the fact that for a long time now I have had to use a very specific shampoo for my hair: one that addresses greasy roots and dry fly away ends.  This shampoo was working fine for me, but when I ran out of it, I thought it was time to be brave & try going more natural.

Actually, I was afraid to go all "no 'poo" to begin with, so I thought I'd transition first to a shampoo bar (also called solid shampoo).  It's like a bar of soap, but it's supposed to be for your hair.  I bought one on Ebay; however, I was disappointed from the beginning with it.  It was called "rosemary mint" but it only smelled like regular old soap.  (Maybe this Ebay seller was just selling old stuff, knock offs, I don't know.)  As I used it my disappointment only increased.  It felt like I had soap build up on my hair.  Greasy, yucky feeling.  Here's another blogger who went no 'poo & used a shampoo bar too, but she had a good experience with it.  I had heard of a "transition phase" as your hair gets used to not being stripped by shampoo all the time, so I kept pushing through.  Every third or fourth wash I would use regular shampoo just to cut the build up back down.

Finally, I got down to it & made my baking soda mixture.  Using the 1:7 ratio talked about by Keeper of the Home, I mixed 2 cups water with 1/4 cup baking soda.  (Note: since this time I have done more internet research I have found out the usual ratio is 1 Tablespoon baking soda per cup of water, so 2 cups water would only need 2 Tablespoons [1/8 cup] baking soda.).  I also mixed in some rosemary sprigs (hopefully to help with dry scalp).
I was going to use this repurposed spray bottle, but it had a strong odor that would not go away, so I ended up using an empty lemon juice bottle (has a small opening so the mixture doesn't pour out all at once).  I kept the mixture in the shower, would shake it up, and use it to wash my hair (yes, it is cold on my head- but because it comes out slow it's not too bad).

The first time I used it I was amazed!  My hair felt so clean- no more soapy greasy build up!  I usually wash every other day, so two days later I used it again and I thought to myself, "Wow, what was I so afraid of?  Clean hair?!"  After going through the yucky hair days with the solid shampoo, this was awesome.  On the third day after this wash my hair still did not feel greasy, but I thought I should wash it anyways.  That time what I got was a very dry, itchy, flaky, scalp.  Lesson learned: do not wash your hair until it actually "needs" it.

I also learned another lesson: rinse very thoroughly.  One day I was not careful to rinse thoroughly & ended up finding dusty soda residue in my hair- yuck.  Now fast forward another month or so.  I have been using the baking soda mixture for the most part, and only wash my hair about every 3 days.  Sometimes my roots are greasy and my ends are fly-away, but I use a straightening iron on my hair & that helps to even things out.  I'm still dealing with a dry itchy scalp quite often though (maybe it has something to do with my high ratio of baking soda?).  It's time to make another batch & I decide this time I will boil the mixture.  I want to do this so the baking soda will actually dissolve into the water, and also because I have hard water & I've heard this may help.

It has a little different feel on my hair but still works.  However, I'm tired of the itchy dry scalp.  I did some internet searching and decided to add some pure tea tree oil, which I just did a few days ago.  The good news: my scalp is a lot less itchy.  The bad news: it makes my roots more oily (so I'm washing more often) but a very thorough rinse seems to help that some.

This is all still an experiment in process.  I'm curious now to try a mixture with a smaller amount of baking soda to see how my hair will respond.  I'm also curious how it will work in Rwanda (with the extra sweat & dust my hair will be exposed to).  I'm writing this a few days before we leave for Rwanda, but posting will happen after we get there.  That way the blog stays active even whilst I am unpacking & getting situated in our new home!

How about you?  Have you gone 'no poo or thought about it?  Any tips for me?

This post is a part of Fight Back Fridays.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oatmeal Snack Bars

I received this recipe from a family friend and I made it before our camping trip as a packable snack.  You could also use these to put in a lunch box (they're chock full of all kinds of good stuff)!  I made a half batch that day because I was low on peanut butter, but I will give you the recipe with the full batch amounts.

Oatmeal Snack Bars
2 cups oatmeal (want it healthier?  use Soaked & Ready Oats)
1 cup chopped peanuts (or other nut)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1 cup sunflower seeds (I didn't have any so I used cashews)
1 cup ground flax seeds
1 cup wheat germ (or you could substitute dried coconut)
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried fruit (I just used more raisins)
1/2 cup honey
1 16 oz jar peanut butter (2 cups)
1 cup fruit spread (jam, jelly)

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl & mix together for about 2 minutes by hand.  Take a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (I would recommend jelly roll pan) and line it with parchment paper.  Dump mixture onto pan or cookie sheet, and press down (easiest to do this without sticking if you use another piece of parchment paper between your hands & the bars).  Bake for 25 minutes (do not over bake).
 You can see in this picture here what stirring it with a spatula did to my spatula!  Yes, it is thick & sticky stuff!  fyi: The half batch was just the right amount for the pan that fits in my toaster oven.

Once cool, slice into bars & cover.  Will keep for several days at room temperature.  I would suggest putting half the batch in the freezer and then pulling it out when you're almost out of the first half of the batch.  Or, package individually & freeze so they're ready to toss into a lunch box as needed.


This post was written a few days ago and scheduled for today.  As you read this my family is on our way to our new home for the next 9 1/2 months- Rwanda!  We will spend about 28 hours traveling to get there - almost half way across the world from Washington state.  Pray for us!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Pops & Mocha Smoothie

Do you ever have extra milk you need to use up?  Last week I did, and I decided my choices were either to make yogurt (but I already had 2 large containers of that) or make pudding pops- guess I have to make pudding!  I found this recipe on the Everyday Life blog, where she says you can either refrigerate for pudding or freeze for pudding pops. Start with the chocolate pudding & you'll be on your way to making some mocha smoooooothies...

Chocolate Pudding
5 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar (I used rapadura)
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch, I used arrowroot)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Start out with a low heat on the stove and dissolve the sugar into milk, stirring or whisking until dissolved.  Then add the cocoa powder and arrowroot.  Increase your stove temperature to medium and stir with a spoon (to be sure it doesn't stick on the bottom- keep on stirring!)  After several minutes the mixture will thicken and you can remove it from the heat.  Stir in the butter and vanilla.  Allow to cool slightly and then either refrigerate or freeze.
Now I will be honest & say that I usually don't care for the "stand and stir" recipes (which most pudding recipes fall into).  It just doesn't feel efficient to me: I have to multi-task!  Of course this has been the death of more than one "stand and stir" recipe.  [Thanksgivings come to mind when I used to make a pumpkin custard pie every year for my father-in-law, and sometimes I would have to make it twice because of not minding it closely enough- ugh!]  Thankfully, my mom was visiting and could help me stir the pudding while I made blueberry jam.  Yes, I was multi-tasking: I can't help it!

Last week I posted about Creamy Probiotic Popsicles and I suggested that if you don't have a popsicle mold that you use a muffin pan.  So, this time I tried it.  Did I mention this recipe makes a lot?  Oh, yes it does!  And do you see how pitiful my popsicle mold stock is (I only have 5 containers, it is supposed to be 6 but one went missing years ago when my daughter was a toddler...)
After I took this picture I placed a toothpick in each mini muffin cup, just layed it in there, and put the whole thing in the freezer.  A day later I pulled it out & ran hot water over the bottom for a few seconds to loosen them (don't take too long with the hot water, they melt fast, and be careful not to impale your hand on the toothpicks- ouch!)  It worked great!  I put them all in a ziploc bag & tossed it back in the freezer.  Voila!
 Hmm, well that picture looks a little messy.  Certainly not going to win me any awards.  But we did end up with mini popsicles!

Now, I am going to share with you my favorite way to enjoy these.  See that ice cube tray up there?  I also popped those out & put them in a ziploc in the freezer.  The next day we had some coffee that did not get finished in the morning, so I put it in the fridge.  Later that afternoon when I was ready for a snack, I pulled it out & threw together this awesome mocha smoothie!  

Mocha Smoothie
1 cup cold coffee
3/4 cup milk
5 cubes of frozen chocolate pudding
small amount of stevia, honey, sugar, or maple syrup to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth.  Pour into a tall glass & say yum!  (Makes about 2 servings- so share, but only if you want to...)
 This picture was taken when I made it using 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup homemade vanilla ice cream- oh yeah!  Why not use all ice cream & make a mocha milkshake?  Now we're talking!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Raw Cashew Cream

The original recipe for this Cashew Cream came from the She Let Them Eat Cake blog.  I thought I was making a non-dairy substitute for sour cream... but this is more similar to peanut butter than anything else.  She talks about both cashew sour cream and sweet cashew cream, so I discovered this is actually sweet cashew cream.  Great spread for breads, and I also have put a tablespoon in the blender when I make my iced coffees (coffee, milk, sweetener, ice) which was very tasty!

Sweet Cashew Cream
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoon maple syrup

Place cashews in bowl, add water, and cover.  (I used a pie plate to soak them in, so more of the cashews would be in contact with the water.)  Allow to soak for overnight (or 8 hours).

After soaking, place in food processor along with lemon juice and maple syrup.  This is what mine looked like after a minute.
Keep processing until smooth.  Cover & store in refrigerator.  Use within one week.
I would make this again to use in my No Bake Granola Bars to replace part of the peanut butter.


This post is a part of Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Flourless Blender Pancakes

In my last post I shared about my adventure with sprouting wheat & making it into bread.  With the sprouted wheat berries I had left, I decided to make blender pancakes for the next morning.  Normally I make this with wheat berries (unsprouted) and oatmeal.  This recipe is easy & I love it.  Using sprouted wheat made it a little different, but I still want to share it with you.

This recipe comes from Sue Gregg's Breakfasts Cookbook.

Flourless Blender Pancakes (or Waffles)
1 cup cultured milk (buttermilk, or yogurt diluted with milk) 
*use 1 1/4 cup milk if making waffles
1 Tablespoon melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raw brown rice, corn, buckwheat, or wheat berries
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats

Place these ingredients in a blender & blend at highest speed for 3 to 5 minutes.  Let stand (in mixer) in warm place for 12 - 24 hours.

1 egg
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat waffle iron or griddle.  Add egg to the batter in the blender and blend on highest speed for 1-3 minutes.  Add in flax seeds, baking soda, and salt and blend to combine (scrape down sides if needed). Grease waffle iron or griddle & pour pancakes (so easy from the blender).  Cook until bubbles on surface pop & then flip.
The batter I got using (over) sprouted wheat berries was very thin (the berries had already absorbed water during the sprouting stage).  At first I had a very rough time cooking them as they were more crepe like.  You can see they were making a mess there.  But then I learned that cooking them at a lower temp & longer would work.
Mmmm- yummy!  Tried & true even with my crazy wheat berries this recipe came through.  However, when I decided to throw some blueberries into the last part of the batch I discovered these are way too fragile to support that!
You may not be able to tell in this picture, but this is after the flip & they were sticking & making a horrible mess, all tore up inside.  I'm thinking to myself, "Things I do for my daughter!"  (My daughter loves blueberry pancakes.) 

Try out this recipe with raw wheat berries.  I've tried it with brown rice, but definitely prefer it with wheat.


This post is a part of Tuesday Twister.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

(Flourless) Sprouted Wheat Bread... oh my!

That "Oh my!" in the title there is not as in, "wow, this was so tasty!"  It was more as in, "Lions and tigers and sprouted wheat, oh my!"

I have had some wheat berries sitting in my pantry for weeks & weeks waiting for me to try this recipe for flourless sprouted wheat bread.  It sounded so amazing, making bread by sprouting the wheat berries and then making dough by running them through the food processor (and *not* having to grind them into flour).  This week I finally got up the nerve to try it... with mixed results.

It's a fairly simple process.  Day one:  take 3 cups of wheat berries, cover with generous amount of water & allow to soak for 24 hours.  I started mine in the evening & had to add more water in the morning (did you see my post yesterday about all the stuff I had soaking?)
Day two: drain in sieve, rinse thoroughly, leave in sieve & cover with damp towel.  Rinse at least every 8 hours and allow to sit for up to 24 hours.  Since I started in the evening, I rinsed them again when I woke up, and again the afternoon.  But in a warm summer kitchen this is what I found after 24 hours of sitting...
I don't know if you can tell in this picture- but these wheat berries are way over- sprouted.  The sprouts should not be longer than the wheat berry, and quite a few were already too long, some even with multiple sprouts...  ::sigh::  But despite her warnings about them being no good for bread baking, I was not to be deterred that easily.

The next step is to seal & refrigerate over night, which worked out perfectly since this was the evening/end of the second day.  The next afternoon I got them out & prepared to make the bread recipe:

Sprouted Wheat Bread
6 cups sprouted wheat berries (my 3 cups turned into more than this)
1 teaspoon yeast
2 Tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons honey
loaf pan, greased
clean kitchen towel
gallon zip lock bag

Dissolve the yeast in the water in a small cup.  Put half of the wheat, salt, honey, and yeast mixture in the food processor (that means 3 cups wheat, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey, + yeast mixture).  Process 30 seconds & then scrape down sides.
This is what mine looked like.  Now the next step is to continue processing until a ball of dough forms.   Do you know what happens when wheat over-sprouts?  It turns very starchy.
After several minutes of processing I still did not see what looked like dough, and it smelled like my food processor motor was starting to overheat.  Maybe it had something to do with what I saw when I lifted up the bowl...
Eww!  Look what it did!  The "stuff" went up inside the blade & down under & eww....  At this point you are supposed to repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.  I do (after cleaning up the first mess) but I don't process it for as long this time & the mess is much less, but I don't think this is what your dough is supposed to look like.
Again, I am not deterred that easily!  I decided to add 2 cups of spelt flour to the glob and knead it for several minutes.  Now, put your dough in a greased bowl & let it rise for several hours.  I figured it has yeast & flour, it should rise...  (I had to help mine out by putting it in a warm oven with a pot of boiling water.)  Eventually my dough did rise, my hopes are going up now!

Next form it into a loaf & place in a greased pan for the second rise.  I put mine in a warm oven again & after a few hours, it looked like this (I was also making sourdough bread at the time so I put them next to each other).
And look at me: I even remembered to slash my loaves!
Now, bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.  The sad news is the sprouted wheat bread did not do it's third rise in the oven.  The good news is my sourdough loaf did & this was the first time for that!  My best sourdough loaf ever!  Wrap your sprouted loaf in the towel & place inside the zip lock bag for 45 minutes.
The taste of the sprouted wheat loaf was very starchy & chewy- no big surprise there.  I still had sprouted wheat left, so my next post will be about the pancakes I tried to make from it.  How about you?  Have you tried making sprouted wheat bread before?  Give it a go & let me know how it works for you!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


How's this for a busy night?  What all is going on here?  In the oven I had soaking: wheat berries (for sprouting- those are up front), the granola I love (back left), cashews (bottom shelf- for cashew cream), and under the towel is a bowl of pancake batter in one bowl and blueberry muffin batter in another.  On top of the stove I have oats soaking for "Soaked & Ready Oats".  And if you see back in the upper left corner of the picture is my jar of sourdough starter.  When you have a small kitchen the oven can come in handy for nights like this!

I made the Soaked & Ready Oats because I am planning on making more No Bake Granola Bars, and I also want to make the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Ice Cream recipe from the Just Making Noise blog.

To make the oats all you need to do is soak 4 cups oats with 4 cups lukewarm water and 5-8 Tbsp. of whey (I used 6).  Allow to soak for 12 to 24 hours, then drain in a sieve for 10 minutes.

Mine actually drained for a lot longer than 10 minutes because I walked away & got busy elsewhere!

Spread the oats out thin on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet (she suggests oiling the paper, but I didn't & it was fine).  I put them in the oven at 250 and dehydrated them for about 4 or 5 hours (doing this at the same time as I dehydrated my granola on another rack, meant I was getting the most out of having my oven on that day).
This is the second time I have made them & this time they were still a little soft in the middle- I probably could have dehydrated them for longer, but I went ahead & processed them into oat sized pieces, put them in a container & now they are in the fridge waiting to be used.
Do you soak your grains?  Do you want to know why I do?  You can read more about it on the new page I've added on the top of my blog "Why Soak?"  (Maybe I should have called it "Whey Soak?"  That's a soaking joke!  Sorry- couldn't help myself- tee hee!)


P.S. I'll post more about the other recipes I had soaking later this week!
This post is a part of Tuesday Twister.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Creamy Probiotic Popsicles

When I saw this recipe for popsicles using buttermilk, I knew I wanted to try it out.  The day I made mine, I decided to give them a little extra boost.  I substituted some of the buttermilk with 1/4 cup raw milk kefir.  I was unsure if freezing kills the probiotics in kefir or yogurt (or cultured buttermilk for that matter) and after doing some digging on the internet I find myself - well, still unsure.  It seems as though the jury is out on whether or not freezing kills them, but even those who say it kills them admits it does not kill all of them- so you are still getting some benefit.

So, if you're going to have popsicles, why not boost them too?  I also added a teaspoon or two or flax seed oil to the mix.  It completely goes undercover & gives you the benefits of essential fatty acids too.  I might try drizzling in a teaspoon of melted coconut oil next time too.  I was out of fresh fruit when I made mine so I used frozen strawberries.  I also ran out of popsicle molds (this recipe makes quite a bit) so I poured the extra into an ice cube tray (pop them out, put in a ziploc bag, then I throw a few at a time into our smoothies) and a couple small containers.  I ate those with a spoon like sorbet.  Mmmmm.

Here is girlichef's recipe with my adjustments...

Creamy Probiotic Popsicles

1 cup buttermilk (real & cultured preferred)
1/2 cup kefir (or yogurt)
1 banana
1 1/2 cups fruit (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup raw honey
optional: 2 teaspoons flax oil or coconut oil (melted)

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend completely.  Pour into molds (or muffin tin?) and place in the freezer.  (If adding your own sticks add them in after one hour & freeze for an additional hour.)

If you don't have popsicle molds, why not use muffin tins (or mini muffin tins)?  I remember as kids we used to use dixie cups, cover with plastic wrap, and then put a stick through the plastic wrap so it would stay in place.  I bet that would work for mini muffin tins or ice cube trays too!


This post is a part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Quick Creamy Pizza or Pasta Sauce

We had pizza a few different ways this week: we had the sourdough pita pizzas I mentioned earlier this week, but we also had some super thin crust pizza.  I had remembered the last time I made NT's Yogurt Dough I had some left over.  I had actually made it for chicken pot pie and once it was rolled out there was enough dough for 4 crusts.  I only needed two for my pot pies, so the other 2 crusts I rolled out onto parchment paper then rolled them up together, sealed in a plastic bag, and froze.

My son was begging for pizza one morning, so I pulled the "pie crust" out of the freezer & let it thaw on the counter for the first half of the day.  By lunch time we were ready to make some super thin crust pizza!  Pre-bake your crust for a few minutes and then add your toppings.  I didn't have any pizza sauce on hand, so that morning I also pulled out a handful of cherry tomatoes I had thrown in the freezer (yup, just threw them in there right in a freezer bag).

We also had a lot of dried oregano from our CSA, which ended up being the main flavor here.  This turned out differently than your usual pasta sauce (not so red or strong on tomato flavor), but since it was so easy & we enjoyed it, I thought I would share it with you.  Spice it to your taste...

Pizza or Pasta Sauce

cup of cherry tomatoes
Roma tomato (sliced)
couple tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of honey
teaspoon of salt
tablespoon of beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped celery
5 garlic cloves (mine were previously cooked in the BBQ)
onion powder
lots of oregano, basil, rosemary
and dash of pepper

Puree in blender until smooth.  You're done!


This post is a part of Pennywise Platter Thursdays and Fightback Fridays.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lot o' Sourdough

This week I decided to try my hand at making sourdough bread again.  I don't know why, after my other failures...  but some sourdough bread with butter was just really sounding good to me!  My starter was looking pretty good this time- as I had pulled it out of the fridge & fed it a few times, and it was looking bubbly and active (maybe they like the warmer kitchens of summertime?).

I decided to try out this recipe for short rise sourdough bread.  My busy life got in the way that day & I ended up letting the dough over-rise (instead of the 8 hour rise I had planned on, it rose for about 10 or so hours on a warm day).  I tucked the dough back into the pan & baked it anyway.  Surprise- this is one of my best looking sourdough loaves yet!
The texture was a little crumbly, but still hit my the spot for my sourdough craving.  Since I had my starter out & going, and I had a lot of hummus in the fridge, I decided to make sourdough pitas too (next to the bread).  I messed up on them though- I did not preheat the baking sheet in the oven.  And, the high heat (500) vaporized some grease in the bottom of my oven & made my smoke alarm go off- waking everyone up (I was baking at night).  Whoops!  They turned out tough & without a pocket, but I still tore them into pieces & dipped them, and I also used some for mini pizzas.

We also made some yummy sourdough pancakes this week (they're on the plate).  I love this recipe because you don't have to soak & it is so fun to watch how the baking soda reacts with the starter- it's alive!  Cook them as soon as it all bubbles up & you get these fun pancakes full of little holes.  Freeze any extras & pop them in the toaster for quick breakfasts.  I only made a half batch this morning (didn't have enough starter for a whole batch) and since I didn't want to use a "half" of an egg, I substituted a couple of tablespoons of ground flax seeds for the egg.

I'll share more about other things tried out in my kitchen later this week~

This post was linked to Tuesday Twister.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Camping & Palm Plate Review

I was so excited when the UPS man brought my sample of disposable palm plates & bowls from Marx Foods the morning before we left for our camping trip.  Excited because this is the first real product review on my blog, and excited because what better way to test them out than while we were camping?

Every year we go camping with two other families, and we have been doing this for almost a decade now!  We go for 4 days/3 nights and we share the cooking duties.  It works great because each family cooks one breakfast and one dinner, and then we all do lunches on our own.  It is so nice to not have to cook or clean dishes every meal!

Back to the plates: Marx Foods makes these plates from palm leaves (read how they are made here) and they are both disposable and biodegradable.  They have a wood grain look to them & my first thought was how great they would be for a large function: like a charity dinner, wedding reception, large party, etc.  When we were planning our a banquet for our ministry last year I looked into disposable plates that were supposed to mimic china, but were in fact plastic (and there just was no denying that).  These would look so much better & be a great conversation piece too.  As a matter of fact, even though they are disposable, my daughter liked them so much that she insisted on washing & reusing them (more about that later)!

The first night we had spaghetti for dinner.  Perfect test: spaghetti sauce is one thing that can really soak through a paper plate.
It is amazing how plates just made from baked palm leaves can be so sturdy.  No weakening at all from this dinner.  Afterwards my daughter washed her plate & although the plate was stained from the sauce it was ready for the next meal.

In the morning it was our turn to make breakfast.  I decided making sausage, egg, & cheese breakfast muffins would be easy to make for a group.  I think it makes camping so much easier if you do as much prep & cooking ahead of time as you can.  I found a "natural" pork sausage at the store, but then I realized that plain "natural" ground pork was only .99/lb (a savings of about $3/lb), so I bought several pounds and used this recipe to make my own seasoned sausage (the only thing I changed in the recipe was to reduce the nutmeg).  I then formed them into patties & pre-cooked all of them.  That sausage was so yummy!
The only thing we had to do in the morning was cook the eggs, butter & warm the muffins (I have a camp oven that goes on the cook stove), and warm the sausage.  The other great thing about going with other families is we share our cooking appliances & cookware.  So, while my husband's cooking eggs on one cook stove, I'm warming the muffins on the other, and we use our propane camp grill to reheat the sausage. 

This was a fairly dry breakfast so we washed the plates under running water & reused them for lunch (and those breakfast sandwiches were so good that I reheated a leftover one for lunch).  For dinner that night we were making taco salad.  I cooked the meat & beans before we left, using this recipe, so I only had to reheat it at dinner time.  Chop some veggies while that's heating & dinner was done!  We had all the fixings laid out so everyone could build their salad in their way. 
These stood up so well to heavy and wet foods, washing (not immersing), and being reused, that I thought they must have some kind of resin in them, but it's palm leaves & nothing else.  Pretty cool, huh?  Now, you may be thinking, "When I'm camping I get to just toss my paper plates into the fire, I'm not going to wash them, so how do these work for that?"  Well, I thought you might wonder that, and even if you didn't, here's our fire test.
The plate is just beginning to catch fire & burning like wood: producing heat & not turning all ashy (like paper plates do).  A minute later it really took off:
Woo hoo!  (Your inner pyro delights in this, I know!)  When it was done burning there was some ash left, but it just stayed in the fire pit & incorporated into the wood ash.
Now back at home, I thought we should give the bowls one more test: a bowl of my granola with kefir, honey, and milk.  I even let it sit while I got ready in the morning.
It held up great.  I even rinsed it off so it can be reused.  You may be able to tell in this picture that washing the plates or bowls will make them lose their shape slightly, but once they air dry they can be reused!

A side note:  we made lots of "real food" compromises this weekend.  Like, you'll notice the english muffins are store bought, not the homemade sourdough ones I've made in the past.  My husband told me, in his sweet way, that I could not subject our friends to any "wierd" food.  Which is probably just as well, because I still spent hours in the kitchen getting ready for our trip.

So, after a weekend liberally sprinkled with sweets and preservatives we found ourselves waking up Monday morning totally exhausted & groggy.  Could we blame it all on not sleeping as well while camping?  I don't think so.  I think we've got junk food hangovers.  A few more days of good sleep, kefir & healthy foods, and we should be recovered!

If you would like to find out more about these plates and bowls (they have 10 different styles) you can visit the website for Marx Foods hereMarx Foods sent me these plates & bowls for free to sample and review, but I was not required or obligated in any way to give them a positive review.  I just think they're super cool, that's all!


This post is a part of Tuesday Twister and Real Food Wednesday.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Taco Soup

How do you stretch 1/4 lb of beef to feed four people?  Taco soup is a great way to stretch your meat (and be kind to your budget) as well as getting nourishing bone broth into your family.  I know soup is not the first meal you think of in the summer heat, but if you let it cool a little bit before eating (not piping hot) you will find it to be a satisfying meal.   Plus, this is an easy meal to throw together from things you probably already have in your pantry or freezer.  If you substitute fresh vegetables for frozen, just allow a little more cooking time.

Taco Soup

1/4 lb. ground beef (or other chopped meat)
clove garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped (green) onions
3 cups bone broth (chicken or beef)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen green beans
1/2 cup frozen shredded potato
1/4 cup salsa (or more, to taste)
1 cup pinto beans (or other)
1 corn tortilla
cheese (shredded)

Brown the ground beef along with garlic and onions.  I also added a teaspoon of Italian seasoning.  Break up meat & cook until all red is gone.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.

Meanwhile, cut corn tortilla into 1/4" strips, then cut strips into 1" or 2" pieces.  Stir into soup. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

While still very hot, ladle into bowls and immediately add a generous amount of shredded cheese on each serving, allowing it to melt into gooey goodness!  You might want to try sour cream or avocado too.

This recipe could even serve 6 people if you start the meal with a generous fresh salad first and then serve the soup.