Monday, October 14, 2013

How To Make Kids {andtheirmom} Eat Brussels Sprouts

I strongly dislike brussels sprouts. That's being nice. I have never eaten one brussels sprout that I've liked. (Sorry, mom.)

Then, my boys saw these stalks at Trader Joe's. "Can we get these, mom??", they begged excitedly. And as awesome as they look still attached to their stalks, there's no way that'll make 'em taste any better. So I said, "Sure, but you have to eat 'em all!"

Fast forward to tonight. I had leftover cooked bacon, and NQ needed something to do. I don't know if you're supposed to take them off, but it sure was fun for my 2-year-old.

Then he helped me scoop out the acorn squash.

Now, after this was done cooking, I thought it looked pretty delicious. Maybe because I love miniature things, and brussels sprouts are basically miniature cabbages. But then I tasted it.


And then I ate more. And more. And my 4-year-old tried it and said, "This tastes good!", and ate a decent serving at dinner, too.

NQ was very excited to eat something he helped make. He ate four pieces. Which isn't that bad.

Needs more salt, mom.

This is no unique recipe, but it was tasty and simple. And I ATE BRUSSELS SPROUTS, MOM!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon 
 1 stalk of Brussels sprouts (it was about 4 cups)
1/2 cup lard from pastured pigs (or butter)
1 tsp RealSalt garlic salt (or just plain sea salt)
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 T butter
3-4 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled 
Detach sprouts from stalk. Wash them and cut them into uniform pieces. I halved and quartered the big ones so they would be the same size as the little ones that I left whole. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the half cup lard into a 9 X 13 pyrex dish and put it in the oven while the oven preheats. That way the lard will be hot and the sprouts won't stick to the dish; they'll get nicely browned that way, too. (You can do the same thing for oven roasted potatoes.) 
Once the dish heats, add the sprouts, salt, and pepper. Stir carefully to coat all the pieces. Remember the fat is hot! 
Bake for 15 minutes; then stir, and reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 25 more minutes. 
Towards the end of the cooking time, take the dish out and add the crumbled bacon and butter. Mix it all together well so everybody gets bacon!

That's all! It tastes kind of like a broccoli + kale chips hybrid.

But the best part, of course, is the brussels sprout sword (club? mace?) that you're left with.

Happy eating :)

-- Christine

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Green Soup with Chicken and Sausage

Just using up some leftover ingredients and making the husband happy with the stick blender. :)

Green Soup with Chicken and Sausage

2 T lard from pastured pigs
1 small organic onion
3 cloves of organic garlic
1 cup chopped squash (like zucchini)
3 cups chopped kale

Heat lard in a soup pot and add the following ingredients. Add a couple tablespoons of sea salt. Cook on medium for about 10 minutes.

4 cups cooked broccoli
4 cups homemade chicken stock
Enough water to cover everything

Bring to a low boil and simmer for a few minutes. I added:
2 shakes cayenne pepper
4 shakes each dried oregano and thyme

Blend well with a stick blender. Then add your meat.
3 chopped sausages (I used Trader Joe's Spicy Vino and Formaggio style)
2 cups chopped leftover chicken

Heat til everything is nice and hot. That's all!

Josh is doing Atkins so that's how he ate his. We ate OURS with a nice blurb of cream.

Yum :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Easy, Quick Veggie Dip

We love sour cream. If I gave my boys spoons and the three pound tub of full-fat Daisy, it would be gone in half an hour. One time, son #2 sat eating sour cream out of the container with his hands for five minutes while mommy thought he was finishing his dinner. (New baby...) The boys argue over who gets to lick the spoon every time a dollop is plopped on something.

To cash in on this happy obsession, I make dip for their veggies with their precious sour cream. It's easy and lasts for weeks, so I always make a lot at once.

Plus, it's my understanding that eating fat with most veggies aids in the absorption of the vitamins and minerals they contain. Also, it's nice at snacktime because it fills them up til dinner.

I should mention that I also enjoy eating this dip from the spoon...

Try it!

Easy Veggie Dip

2 cups full fat sour cream (I use Daisy brand because it has ONE ingredient: cream.)
1/2 tsp RealSalt garlic salt
1/2 tsp RealSalt onion salt
2 tsp dried dill
2 shakes cayenne pepper
1-2 T lemon juice
Optional: half an avocado for added nutrition

Mix well. That's all!

Note: If you don't have the RealSalt onion and garlic salt, just use regular, or use onion and garlic powder with salt added (probably 1/4 tsp for the powders, 1/2 tsp for the salt). Personally, I like knowing that we're all getting the natural trace minerals from the sea salt, though. They're worth buying!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Simple Maple Vinaigrette

This has become my favorite salad dressing for the summer. I don't even make it in a bottle (although you most certainly could) because it's only 5 ingredients. I really like it because not only is it delicious, but every single ingredient is a real food that's healthful. 

I currently enjoy it the most on romaine, cucumber, and avocado salads, sprinkled with dried cranberries and pecans. It would be good on any salad with dried or fresh fruit in it. 

The measurements in the recipe are what I use for an entree salad for one. Double, triple, quadruple for enough to store for later.

Quick tip: REAL extra virgin olive oil becomes solid in the refrigerator, so to make this ahead of time and not have to thaw it every time, store all of the ingredients but the olive oil mixed together in a jar in the fridge. Then just add the olive oil separately when you dress your salad.

Simple Maple Vinaigrette

2 T Bragg's raw apple cider vinegar
3 T organic extra virgin olive oil (I currently am using Costco's brand)
1/4 tsp Real Salt onion salt
1/4 tsp Real Salt garlic salt
1-2 T grade B maple syrup

Mix and enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Homemade Chocolate Milk

Quick recipe - no small talk. ;) I love this stuff! I use half cocoa, half carob powder to minimize caffeine consumption for the boys. It adds a different flavor, too. You could do all cocoa powder. I've also tried adding gelatin powder to bump up nutritional value, but I've never been able to get it completely blended.

Oh wait, I said no small talk. 

Homemade Chocolate Milk 

1/2 gallon raw milk (or just whole milk)
1/4-1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
2 tsp real vanilla extract 
2 T cocoa powder
2 T carob powder

Mix well using an immersion blender or regular blender. Our raw milk comes in half gallon sized mason jars so it's easy to just use an immersion blender, but you just want to make sure the carob powder gets blended in.

I drink this stuff with reckless abandon! 

-- Christine 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chicken Nuggets {Gluten-free}

When I first started changing my diet in 2011 after experiencing lots of not-so-fun (and surprising) reactions to foods I've always been able to eat just fine, I latched on to the diet lifestyle of the Weston A. Price Foundation. One of the diet changes they recommend is to not use packaged flour from grocery stores, even whole grain flours, as the flour goes rancid very quickly after the grains are ground and can (and does) cause inflammation in the body, leading to all sorts of lovely health problems.

Well, for awhile, I tried to use (ridiculously, prohibitively expensive) sprouted flour, and then I switched to soaking store-bought flour (like I do for my cereal), but I couldn't and still can't find a local source for grains from which to grind my own flour. I probably could find one, but I'm not willing to pay as much for grains as I do for things like grass-fed beef, raw milk, and other more nutrient dense foods.

Consequently, I decided to just stop eating so many grains. I went crazy and bought big box of Bob's Red Mill arrowroot starch on Amazon so I could start trying to use a grain-free substitute wherever I could. Arrowroot starch can replace corn starch as a thickener; a certain amount of flour in baking recipes; and, as in this recipe, it can be used as a coating for fried foods.

Needless to say, I have a lot of arrowroot starch to use up. I am also trying to get some food prepared ahead of time for the boys to eat after the baby is born (due date = 2 more weeks!), so I'm going to make lots of these nuggets and freeze them so daddy or the grandparents can just pop them (already cooked) into the oven and have a quick, easy lunch for the boys.

They're not the usual crispy chicken nugget -- they're more Chick-Fil-A style, with the soft coating. But they satisfied my 4-year-old's request for "REAL chicken nuggets" (yeah, like he knows what those are!), as opposed to the slightly soggy version I made last time for dinner. Kids.

       Gluten-free Chicken Nuggets
1/2 cup organic pastured lard* (NOT from a grocery store)
1-2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. arrowroot starch
1 T Real Salt seasoning salt (similar to Lowry's but made with sea salt)
1 tsp. italian seasoning (mine has oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic)
2 tsp. smoked paprika
pepper to taste (my boys don't like pepper so I didn't use any)

Cut chicken thighs into small pieces, about 1-2" big. Beat eggs in a bowl with a fork. Combine remaining ingredients in a second bowl.

Add lard to a large skillet and heat on medium to medium high. (You don't want to heat it past its smoking point of 375 degrees.) Dip each piece of chicken into the arrowroot mix first, then the egg, then the arrowroot mix again, and drop it into the pan.

After the chicken browns slightly on one side (it won't brown as much as a flour-coated nugget would), flip it over and cook the other side until also slightly browned. I think this took about 10-12 minutes total for me. Cook the coated chicken in batches until you've cooked it all. Don't crowd the pan if you want it crunchy.

My package of chicken thighs weighed 1.68 lbs., and I got enough nuggets for all of us to have dinner and for at least 2-3 lunches' worth for the boys to stick in the freezer.

These taste really good with homemade honey mustard: just mix honey and yellow mustard 'til it tastes right to you! I think they'd be good with a lemon pepper seasoning, too. Let me know if you try them!

*Why do I use lard? This is why! And this and this! I can hook you up with some fresh from the farm organic pastured lard if you live close to me...


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quick Energy Bars

Protein bars are kind of the cool, easy snack nowadays, but most of them contain a lot of things that we don't eat anymore. I like Lara Bars, but they're expensive, and the ingredient list is so simple, I figured making them at home would be easy. Well, how come they can get their walnuts and dates to stick into a nice bar, but my food processor version is sticky and very un-moldable?

Enter coconut oil.

There are many variations of this bar, but I just have to say - if you've never used dates to sweeten anything, you have to try it. You can make them into a paste (add a little water and put them in the food processor, after you've pitted them) to use as a sugar substitute in almost anything that has a moist texture (like fudgy brownies).

This recipe can be made with any nuts you like, with any added fruit. The only thing is to note is that since coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, remember to keep them in the refrigerator. They get squishy at a lower temperature.

Before chilling

I call them "energy" bars instead of "protein" bars because I don't think the protein level is high enough to count as protein bars, but the combination of nuts, coconut oil, and dates will definitely give you an energy boost! This makes about 5 bars, 1"x5", about 1/2" in thickness.

Quick Energy Bars  
1 cup crispy walnuts (or almonds, pecans, cashews)*
10 dates, pitted 
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil 
In a food processor, blend the nuts for a minute until they're pretty well chopped.
Add the dates and coconut oil, processing and scraping down the sides until they're well blended. You can leave it a little bit chunky or make it nice and smooth.
Scoop out the mixture into a small square dish (you'll want the mix to go about 1/2" up the side of the dish), cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours before cutting.
Warm up your knife before you cut them into bars or squares - it makes it much easier!

Somebody wanted a taste...
My favorite combination is walnuts, pecans, and cashews. I think they'd taste good with a few dried cherries in there, too, but I haven't tried that yet. By the way, my boys call this fudge. :o)

Let me know in the comments if you try them!

*Crispy nuts are raw nuts that are soaked in salty water and then dehydrated. Why do I do this?

 -- Christine

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Homemade Cereal: Coconut, Pecans, & Oats

After numerous attempts at this recipe from The Healthy Home Economist, I finally found a combination that made my mouth happy.

I need coconut in my cereal to make it taste creamy, and the pecans help with that too. Oats keep the cereal crunchy when it's soaking in milk, and the spices add just a little more flavor. Cinnamon would be an obvious addition - I left it out because it gives the little guy a rash.

This recipe makes more than a gallon of cereal (it stays fresh and tasty for a long time in a closed container!), but it could easily be halved.

          Homemade Cereal: Coconut, Pecans, & Oats
(a.k.a., maple bunches o' oats, pecans, & coconut - yeah, catchy!)
3 c. old fashioned oats
3 c. whole grain spelt flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
3 c. warm water
2 T apple cider vinegar (Bragg's organic raw)
3/4 c. coconut oil
1 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. molasses
2 tsp. real vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes (I used Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 c. chopped raw pecans (soaked and dehydrated)*

The night before, combine flour and oats in a large bowl. Add water and vinegar; stir and cover, and leave in a warm spot overnight.**

The next day, melt the coconut oil and add it and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Pour into two greased (I use coconut oil) 9x13s, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Let the 'cakes' cool completely and then turn them out onto 2 rimmed cookie sheets covered in parchment paper. Crumble the cakes into bite size pieces (think of how big of a piece you and/or your kids would want to have on a spoon). Put into a 200 degree oven for 6-12 hours, stirring everything couple of hours.

The cereal will be done when it's crispy all the way through and not chewy. Try not to eat it all before putting it away... Oh wait, that was me.

Note: In my opinion, this cereal is amazing with fresh, whole milk, but it would be good as a 'granola' with yogurt, too.

*Soaking nuts: why do I do it?
**Soaking flour and oats: why do I do it?

-- Christine

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chicken Quinoa Soup

I make chicken stock every couple of weeks, and this time, most of it went straight into a pot of soup. I had a craving for chicken noodle soup, so I stole the stock from the pot a day early (usually I let it simmer for 48 hours). We didn't have any noodles, so I used leftover quinoa from the night before - I had tried it once before in a pot of sausage spinach soup and it was really good - as I find that using cooked noodles, rice, etc., works better than uncooked so that all of my stock doesn't get sucked up. I had cooked a chicken two nights before, too, so I had that all set.

It was meant to soup, that is. We all ended up getting colds the next day, so I was very thankful for all of the leftovers this made!

In this blog, I will post exactly what I used for the particular meal. I won't always use the same ingredients every time (for example, I don't always use organic), but my goal is to record exactly what I made, no generalizations. Here is the recipe:

Chicken Quinoa Soup
2 +/- quarts homemade chicken stock*
5 organic carrots
5 stalks of organic celery
1 organic zucchini
1 organic sweet white onion
3 cloves organic garlic
2 T unsalted organic butter
2 +/- cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat
2 +/- cups cooked quinoa (mine was an organic mixed variety from Trader Joe's)
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 T (approx.) sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in soup pot and process carrots, celery, onion, and zucchini in a food processor until the vegetables are small bits (we have some in our household who shun large chunks of vegetables in their soup). Cook the vegetables in the butter until they're soft. Mince the garlic finely and allow it to sit out for 10-15 minutes (don't add it to the soup yet**).

Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper, and oregano, and bring to a low boil. Cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add cooked chicken and cooked quinoa. Heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to boil the soup after the chicken is added so that it doesn't become tough. Just before stirring, stir in the minced garlic and test for salt. If needed, add more. I like my soup salty.

*I follow this recipe (loosely, sometimes) for making my stock.

**Mincing garlic finely and then letting it sit for a little before eating it lets it release the active agents that have health benefits for us. I try to get as much raw garlic into my family as possible because it really helps us fight winter colds. Normally, unheated is best.