Real Food Maple Lemonade

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Why do I want to move to the central coast of California? Not only do we have family here, but within an hour of arriving at my parents house in Santa Cruz, Porter and I ate our fill of raspberries off the bush, shared in the neighbor’s freshly growing snap peas and picked 2 dozen lemons from my dad’s tree.

raspberriesEverything grows abundantly here, which in turn begs a person to pick the bounty to make room for more. We were happy to oblige. Since I’m still trying to convince my husband that we need to move here ASAP I took the opportunity to make his favorite beverage as yet another good reason to head further west, lemonade with a maple twist. The recipe is at the bottom. What you get to enjoy next are a few of the flowers that are lucky enough to call my dad’s garden home.

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lemonade

Ingredients

2 cups lemon juice (approx 24 lemons)
7 cups water
1 cup organic unrefined cane sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup, or honey

Make It

1. Juice the lemons into a large bowl or pitcher

2. In a pot bring 2 cups water to a boil and add sugar/maple syrup/honey. Stir until dissolved.

3. Add remaining 5 cups water and sugar water to lemon juice.

4. Mix thoroughly and chill.

Enjoy! 

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This post featured on the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Fight Back Friday

Real Food Tomato Soup

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My husband has a special place in his heart for tomato soup and grilled cheese. I think a lot of people probably agree with him. In his happy memories he always ate tomato soup from the red and white can with a name that rhymes with rambles.

For years I was happy to indulge him in his love for canned tomato soup. Then came information on BPA and how highly acidic tomatos can leach it out of cans, which in turn can cause a host of problems for mammals. For the full run down you should read the Mark’s Daily Apple article on canned food where he even goes as far as recommending no canned foods whatsoever.

I searched high and low for acceptable alternatives to the “rambles” tomato soup. We probably tried 10 different soups including my own homemade versions. Non of them stood up to the tangy tomato-y taste that my husband was so fond of. Plus, jarred tomatos are freakin’ expensive! At my local store canned tomatos cost less than $2. Spaghetti sauce in a jar costs about $3.75 and a jar of peeled and unseasoned tomatos a whopping $9! To be fair I tried a less expensive brand from Italy, but the tomato flavor was off. I guess we’re a household of tomato snobs and it’s time to start canning our own.

Then I took a gander in my old school Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, circa 1984. I should have known that if I made some tweaks here and there that I wouldn’t be led astray. I substituted the 14 ounces of canned tomatos for a combination of fresh tomatos and (the much less expensive) strained tomato juice in a jar. The surprise ingredient is some pre-made spaghetti sauce instead of the plain tomato sauce, which can also be found cheaply. I subbed chicken stock for water, butter for margarine, and changed the amount of herbs and…voila! The most flavorful and tasty tomato soup I’ve ever made. Even Luke agrees.

Ingredients

You’ll need a blender, either upright or immersion.

1 onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup strained tomato juice
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup spaghetti sauce, try to find one without extra additives and oils
1/2 teaspoon dried basil OR 1 tablespoon fresh
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme OR 1 teaspoon fresh
salt and pepper to taste

Make It

1. In a large saucepan cook onion in butter until tender (not brown).

2. Add fresh tomatos, strained tomatos, broth, spaghetti sauce, basil, thyme, salt/pepper.

3. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Use your blender of choice to smooth it out.

Serve with sourdough grilled cheese and enjoy!

tomato soup CollageThis post featured on the following blog carnivals: Family Table Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Sunday School, Fight Back Friday

 

Real Food Creamy Ranch Cauliflower Mash

cauliflower mashThis is a post that I did last summer, but have spruced up because I’ve recently learned how to make my own Ranch Dressing Herb Mix and that got me really excited about this recipe again.

Luke and I don’t eat a whole lot of processed carbohydrates these days, so I’ve had to get creative with my veggies. This is a cauliflower recipe that I’ve modified from my friend Chelsea‘s recipe. If you want to get crazy, then throw in a cooked potato to make it more like mashed potatoes.

I had never really like cauliflower. Then again, the only time it’s really ever served is on a veggie platter from the supermarket, raw. After perfecting this recipe, I’ve actually acquired a taste for raw cauliflower too. Who would have guessed?

INGREDIENTS

You’ll need a big pot, colander and masher. You can try using an immersion blender, but we’ve done many tests and prefer the crunchiness of the mash over the creaminess of the blender.
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons dry ranch dressing herb mix – make your own or buy an MSG free package
salt to taste
These measurements are estimates, use more or less of anything according to the size of cauliflower and your personal taste.

MAKE IT

1. Start a pot of water to boil.
2. Cut cauliflower into florets, removing the core. Keep them the same size so they’ll all cook in the same amount of time.
3. When water comes to a boil, add the cauliflower and boil for 5-10 minutes. When cooked, you should be able to easily pierce and remove a sharp knife from one of the florets. Drain cauliflower.

4. Add cauliflower and all the ingredients back into the warm pot, and cover for a few minutes to let everything melt.

5. Mash it, stir it, mash it some more. Taste it to see if you want to add more of anything. Mash and stir again.

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This recipe featured on: Family Table Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Cultured Palate, Real Food Wednesday, Sunday School, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fight Back Friday

Real Food Lactation Cookies (For the whole family)

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Were you lucky enough to have that one (maybe more) friend bring you weeks worth of meals right after your baby was born? I was. Thank goodness for my dear friend Chelsea and her overwhelming generosity in the days after my son was born.

lactation cookies doughShe brought over sushi, a bunch of prepared meals and these lactation cookies. As she handed them to me, her 2 year old daughter took a big bite of one too, and with gobs of enthusiasm. While they’re called lactation cookies, everyone will enjoy them. EVERYONE. Bring these cookies to your new mama friends, make them to increase your own milk supply, or just bake them because you want a chewy, oat-y, chocolate chip cookie.

These cookies are so good that my husband made batch after batch in the months after P was born (he’s never baked in his life) and there were days I’m pretty sure we lived on them. My friend Jillian, who is due in 2 weeks, is making them in preparation. I made them for P’s second birthday (make sure your baking soda is not expired). This is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

There are a couple of ingredients that make these cookies especially good for making mama’s milk:

  • Oats* eaten on a regular basis have been known to increase milk supply. (source)
  • Flax* meal is high in Omega-3 fats and helps in the creation of linoleic acid which helps create DHA, which is crucial for infant develpement. Flax seeds are also rich in protein, and fiber. (source 1,2)
  • Brewer’s Yeast** which is high in B vitamins and is shown to to increase nutritional value of breast milk. (source 1,2)

lactation cookies milkCombine these ingredients with pastured butter, real salt, pastured eggs and a glass of pastured raw milk on the side and not only will your belly be filled, but so will your baby’s.

*For the preparation of these ingredients, before baking, see the bottom of the recipe.
**Brewer’s yeast can be purchased online or at your natural foods store.

Ingredients

350* for 12-14 minutes
You’ll need a BIG bowl, a smaller bowl, a mixer is nice but not necessary, and a mixing spoon.
Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning for best results.

2 Tbsp flax seed meal
4 Tbsp water

For best nutritional breakdown, mix these two ingredients 8-12 hours ahead of time and cover with plastic wrap or a small plate to keep from drying out.

1 cup butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup organic brown sugar – you can certainly experiment with alternative sweeteners here
2 pastured eggs
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups already sprouted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp real salt
3 cups oats, sprouted or soaked and dried
1 cup cocolate chips (I use the whole package)
2-4 Tbsp Brewer’s Yeast

Make It

Mix flax meal and water 8-12 hours before starting.

In big bowl:

Cream together butter and sugars.

Add eggs and combine.

Add flax mixture and vanilla, combine.

In smaller bowl:

Sift (or whisk) flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda and salt.

Add dry ingredients to the wet and combine.

Mix in oats and chocolate chips by hand.

Scoop onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on size, until golden.

lactation cookie cookedAllow to cool on cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before transfering cookies to cooling rack. Don’t skip this step.

ENJOY!

Now, about the flour and oats. It’s important that we soak/sprout our flours, seeds, and oats to make the nutrients more accesible to us, therefore making the recipe that much healthier. Usually we can use the liquids from the recipe to do the soaking, but there’s not nearly enough liquid in this recipe to do that. You can buy already sprouted flour here, or at your natural food store. It can be used for all your baking needs.

About the oats, that’s a bit of a quandary. You can buy them here or at your natural food store. Or you can soak them in water with a tablespoon of lemon juice, vinegar or kefir, covered – over night. Then you can dry them in your dehydrator or, in my case, oven on very low heat < 200* for many hours. You can also try to mix them in wet, but I don’t know what the finished texture will be like. Let me know if you try it.

This post featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Family Table Tuesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Friday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Fight Back Friday

Simple Asparagus – 2 Ways

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Eating seasonally makes a lot of foods that were once common place a lot more exciting, since they only show up once or twice a year. Two of the first spring foods that we get in the northwest (and other colder climates) are strawberries and asparagus.

When food is really fresh, the best way to eat it is in it’s most whole and simple form. This allows the natural flavors to shine and gets you in and out of the kitchen quickly. Something to remember about asparagus, don’t overcook it. It should have a little crunch when you bite into well cooked asparagus, and in no way should it resemble a noodle.

My Favorite 2 Ways To Prepare Asparagus

They both include the same 3 ingredients:

asparagus
real salt
organic pastured butter

Lucky for us, eating your veggies with fat, especially dairy fat, makes all those vitamins more accessible to our bodies, so load up your asparagus with plenty of pastured butter. (source)

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How To Prepare Asparagus (For Any Recipe)

Snap it, wash it, cook it!

Sometimes you’ll cut off a lot of the asparagus stalk, and that can feel wasteful. First, start composting it. Second, you don’t want to eat the stringy woody part that gets chopped, that’s not good eats.

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Steamed Asparagus

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This is my 2 year olds favorite way to eat asparagus. He'll seriously eat it all.
This is my 2 year olds favorite way to eat asparagus. He’ll eat it all, seriously.

 

Grilled Asparagus

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The recipe featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Family Table Tuesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Family, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Scratch Cooking Tuesday, Fight Back Friday

Real Food Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffinsUpon waking one day my son asked for muffins. Hmm, okay. We didn’t have muffins. It took me a moment, but then I realized that we had everything we need in our pantry to make blueberry muffins. They aren’t crazy ingredients, it’s not shocking that I had them, but in that moment I felt like the best home-maker ever. And I never have that feeling. It felt really good. Not only that, but it was easy enough to do with my 2-year-old son. And triple bonus, the hubs loves blueberry muffins above the rest. I became giddy about these muffins.

I followed the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook recipe with my real food ingredients and they were eh, and then realized I could make them better. So I did. These aren’t the overly sweet dessert muffins with giant tops that you find at bakeries. They’re slightly sweet delicious treats for breakfast or snack time. You can feel good about your kids eating them too, especially slathered with butter.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups sprouted or soaked wheat flour (If you find 100% whole wheat to be too “wheaty” for your taste, than you can cut in pre-ground Einkorn flour or white flour as the 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or vanilla in a pinch) or 1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen. Reserve 1/4 cup.

Make it

First things first, you should make this by hand. A mixer will over mix the batter and hand mixing will keep it light and fluffy. So get out a mixing bowl and whisk. Also, I like lining my muffin tin with cups, but if you have your own tried and true way, do that. You should get 10-12 muffins.

Preheat oven to 400*

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.

Add all dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl and combine with your whisk. Make a well in the middle.

In a different bowl, beat the eggs and add the other wet ingredients. Make sure the melted butter isn’t so hot that it cooks the eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until ALMOST completely combined.

Add your berries and mix gently until just combined.

Now STOP mixing, don’t over mix, it’ll be better this way.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.

Using your reserved berries add a few to the tops of each muffin so they peek out.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Let cool.

If you take off the paper too soon, it’ll tear apart your muffin. So, let it cool awhile before eating. My son hated this part.

The part he loved was eating them covered with butter, duh.

Now go enjoy your muffins!

This post featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Friday, Fight Back Friday, Real Food Wednesday, Family Table Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Sunday School, Thank Goodness It’s Monday

Real Food Butter Crackers

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We like crackers in this house. Who doesn’t, really? We especially like them salty and with cheese. Porter’s Grandma T came to visit this weekend and since we didn’t have any crackers in the pantry, we took a trip to the store and picked up the kind my husband and his mom like. I won’t name the brand, but here’s a picture:

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And this is what the ingredient list looks like:

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Did you read that? I didn’t either. I didn’t need to because anything with that many ingredients that look like they belong on the periodic table can’t be Real Food.  And what is TBHQ anyways?

We Ate ‘Em

They were crispy and gave off a buttery appearance despite the lack of any actual butter whatsoever. Of course, my son LOVED them. So then it became my job to come up with a recipe that I feel good about feeding to him. I scoured the internet and tried my own recipes and this is what I came up with.

Ingredients

2 cups flour – I used Einkorn, but will be using Spelt in the future
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt, plus some for sprinkling on top
6 tbsp cold butter, plus 2 tbsp melted for topping
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup milk

Make It

Preheat oven to 400* F

Put the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. You can do this by hand too using knives or a pastry blender.

Add cold butter, small pieces at a time and pulse to combine.

Add honey and coconut oil and pulse to combine.

Add milk and pulse. It should start to form a ball of dough.

Divide the dough in two and roll each half out onto a separate Silpat mat or parchment paper. I used wax paper on top to prevent sticking.

Using a knife or pizza cutter score lines in the shapes you want your crackers to be. Poke holes in each cracker.

Cook in a 400* oven for 10 minutes.

When golden, take out and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Let cool and separate.

They still make plenty of crumbs, Porter proved that immediately. Enjoy!

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Store bought on the left, homemade on the right.

This post featured in Fight Back Friday, Party Wave Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Weekend Gourmet, Small Footprint Friday

Real Food Rice Pudding

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As luck would have it, my soon to be brother in-law makes awesome Indian food. More luck, my visiting mother in-law requested an Indian food feast. Hurray! It was all delicious and wonderful and satisfying. My 2 year old ate it up, YES!

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Besides the incredible main dishes, what I think absolutely makes the meal are the various chutneys, dips, spiced rice and homemade naan. Considering the spice, and I mean actual spice not heat, of Indian cooking, the condiments present an opportunity to bring even more depth to the meal. Sweet, pungent, tart, and mellowing flavors made our feast that much more enjoyable.

Have you ever made an authentic Indian dish? Let alone multiple dishes in the same day? It’s a painstaking amount of prep work, followed by a spicy and intense flurry of cooking over rippling hot oils. The foundation of the dish has to be taken to the cusp of burnt and then spices added in the right order before adding the protein or vegetable. And only then will the cook be able to turn the heat down and sigh in relief that they are (hopefully) still breathing.

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photo credit

I was told to bring dessert (and I offered up green bean curry, look for that upcoming post) and considering the theme I decided upon rice pudding. It’s made with gobs of milk and cream to sooth any residual burn and bonus, it’s easy. Thing is…I’ve never had rice pudding that I particularly enjoyed, and too often I find it’s ruined by cardamom (better suited to green bean curry in my opinion).

I’m not one to back down from a food just because I haven’t found the right recipe, so I hopped on the web and studied a variety of rice puddings. The two that I focused on, before finally coming up with my own, were Alton Brown’s recipe and this one from Single Dad Laughing. My goal was to make a sweet, creamy real food version of this classic dish that still held the texture of soft rice. What came out of my experiment was creamy (not mushy) flavorful and sweet, and no cardamom.

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Maybe because my palate is cleaner due to my better diet of late. Or maybe it’s the lack of sugar I’m taking in, but this pudding was good. Like, REAL good. Sweetened with maple syrup and coconut milk (which wasn’t as overpowering as it could easily have been), it was simply lovely. This made a great dessert, but would also make a nice addition to breakfast, or as a snack, or straight from the fridge on a spoon. However you eat it though, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Real Food Rice Pudding

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter, organic/pastured
1.5c cooked white rice
1.5c whole organic/pastured milk
1/2c half & half OR cream
3/4c coconut milk (not coconut water)
1/4c maple syrup
1/2c soaked raisins

Make It

Place raisins in a bath of hot water to plump.

In a saucepan over medium heat melt butter and add rice. Mix until rice is covered in melted yummy goodness.

Turn heat to med/high and add milk. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil (stirring) and then turn down to a simmer. Stir regularly for 5-8 minutes until mixture thickens.

Add cream, coconut milk, maple syrup and mix. Make sure it’s still simmering. Stir until even thicker and bubbly, 10-12 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Drain raisins and add to pudding. I think a handful of sliced almonds would be a nice addition too.

Pour into a dish and cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap/wax paper. Allow to sit on the counter for 2.5 hours or refrigerate and it will firm up but maintain that beloved creaminess.

We ate ours at room temperature and that was perfect, but (again) if you absolutely MUST indulge before the allotted cooling time – no one would blame you!

This post featured in Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Fight Back Friday, Weekend Gourmet, Real Food Wednesday, Family Table Tuesday