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Spring Ferments

Image courtesy Toréa Rodriguez

Image courtesy Toréa Rodriguez

Well spring has definitely sprung in this part of the world. I usually can tell by the change in the veg at the farmers markets. This week I was excited to see, not only asparagus, but green garlic too! So exciting!! Plus its a welcome change to the seasons. My friend wrote about Eating Intuitively over at her blog It's Me, Charlotte and it got me thinking about how we naturally change what we crave based on the seasons too.

I crave more vegetables and lighter dishes in the spring and summer. Anyone else notice that?

So in that vein, I decided to make some of our farmers market haul into some crispy tangy fermented veg! I did two batches; the recipe for each are below. I wrote some tips on fermentation a few posts back, in case this is something that is new for you. And this time I am jotting down my technique so you can try too. I just can't help it - I really am loving my Kraut Source lids!

Fermented veg are great additions to salads, scrambles, stir-frys, you name it. Sometimes I will just snack on them plain! 


Herby Carrots & Turnips

Spring Asparagus

  • 1 carrot (any color, I used purple)
  • 4-5 small tokyo turnips, sliced
  • 1 head green garlic, sliced
  • few sprigs fresh dill
  • 1/2 t coriander seed
  • 1/4 t fennel seed
  • 2% brine (see notes below)
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 head green garlic, sliced
  • few sprigs fresh dill
  • 2% brine (see notes below)

 

 

Procedure

For the Asparagus, I simply washed them and snapped them off at the ends with my hands. This is where asparagus naturally becomes tender rather than tough and stringy. Then I cut them to fit in the jar. For the green garlic (in both recipes) and for the Carrot/Turnips, I used a mandolin to slice them thinly.

Then I place the ingredients into the jars. You can stack them on the ends, or layer them however you like. As long as all the ingredient make it to beneath the "shoulder" of the jar. My asparagus was a bit tall, so I twisted them in the jar to get them to be as low as possible.

Then I make a 2% brine. This is super easy. For every 2 cups filtered water, you'll want to add 10g of sea salt. I like to use a super fine pink himalayan sea salt because it is easier to go into solution with cold water. For this batch, I made about 5 cups with 25g of salt mixed in. 

Then I just pour enough brine to cover the veg by about an inch (2-3cm). I use the Kraut Source lids since they are so great at keeping the good bacteria in and keeping out everything I don't want with their water lock. They also help keep my veg submerged under the brine. 

These will stay on my kitchen counter for approximately 3-7 days. I can already see the bubbles forming on the carrot/turnips (24h later) but no activity yet on the asparagus. I'll keep checking them visually each day and do a taste test every few days. Once they change from tasting salty to tangy, yet still have a bit of crispness, that is when I know they are done. Then I swap out the tops for normal canning jar lids and store them in the fridge.

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Inflammation Busting Turmeric Tonic

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

Inflammation can come from many sources. It could be a cold, or flu... or from foods that don't agree with your system (aka me and gluten, not the best friends). Or you may be exposed to something environmentally (molds, chemicals from cleaning or beauty products, etc). Regardless, inflammation is a normal response of the immune system, but sometimes our lovely immune system needs a little love. Good thing there are things we can do to help support it in its time of need. One of those foods is turmeric, and its got some awesome anti-inflammatory (amongst many other) benefits (1, 2).

The last few weeks, I have been experimenting with turmeric root in the kitchen and really loved this concoction that can be fairly versatile! So I wanted to share it with all of you. The best part is that it can be made in batches so you only have to do it once a week or once in a while (depending on how often you consume it). And it can be used in a variety of ways: cold, hot, gummy snack, sparkling... whatever your fancy. One thing I know is the marigold-orange hearts make me happy when I see them in my cup!

The other great thing about this recipe is that it also contains ginger which supports digestion. And since I use the root (peel and all) you also get the beneficial bacteria (read: probiotics) that are present in the outer layers of both the turmeric and ginger. I tend to get both of theses roots in the market when I can find them fresh, and then chop them into smaller pieces and freeze them for longer term storage. You can then let the quantity you need thaw slightly before making the tonic.

Note: I use a blender and nut milk bag to make mine. If you don't like the hand/finger workout (good for rock climbing, right?), you can always use a juicer to make the same thing. Just be forewarned, your pretty white nut milk bag will be forever bright yellow after this :)

Turmeric Tonic Concentrate

Use this concentrate for "shots" to be added to regular water, or fizzy water. You can even freeze them into ice "shots" for fizzy water or, heck even cocktails when you are feeling fancy! I use 3 cubes, which is about 1 oz or 30 ml of tonic for every 10-12 oz (300-400ml) water/fizzy water.  You can use ginger and lemon essential oil as well to enhance the flavor, but not required to get a good tonic.

Ingredients

  • 4 lemons peeled
  • 1-2" of fresh ginger root (~25g)
  • 2-3 "fingers" of fresh turmeric root (~75g)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 drops ginger essential oil (optional)
  • 2-3 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Place peeled lemons, ginger, turmeric and water in a high-powered blender
  2. Turn it up to max speed and blitz until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into a nut milk bag to strain into a quart sized mason jar.
  4. Store in the mason jar, or freeze smaller "shot" portions in an ice cube tray.

Turmeric Tonic Gummies

These are potent! So if you want them for snacks, I would suggest that you dilute with more water and perhaps increase the gelatin. However, i find the gummy version to be excellent for adding to hot water to make a Turmeric Tonic Tea. I use 3 squares (about 30 grams) for each 10-12 oz (300-400ml) hot water.

Ingredients

  • 4 lemons peeled
  • 1-2" of fresh ginger root (~25g)
  • 2-3 "fingers" of fresh turmeric root (~75g)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 T gelatin
  • 1-2 drops ginger essential oil (optional)
  • 2-3 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Place peeled lemons, ginger, turmeric and water in a high-powered blender
  2. Turn it up to max speed and blitz until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into a nut milk bag to strain into a sauce pan.
  4. Set the saucepan on the stove over medium heat and warm it up to just steaming, not boiling. Place the now warmed liquid back in the blender and turn on low so that its just keeping the liquid in motion. While the liquid is moving, sprinkle the gelatin in to get it to mix properly.
  5. Pour into silicone molds to create gummy snacks and refrigerate until set. If you don't have a mold, then you can pour into a small baking dish. Once set, cut into smaller squares.

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Bone Broth: New Health Craze or Traditional Staple?

CC image courtesy of Billfromesm

CC image courtesy of Billfromesm

Seems like bone broth is getting a lot of media these days... here, here and here. There's even entire books devoted to bone broth! Which is fine by me! Frankly, I don't care if it is a craze or not. I do know that bone broth has been around for many, many years and probably arose from trying to get as much nutrition out of food as possible and without letting anything go to waste. 

In fact, broth has been touted to be a healing potion as far back as the days of Hippocrates. Bone broth, the kind you make at home, is extraordinarily rich in nutrients, namely minerals and amino acids and collagen. Bone broth is rich in arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports the body's detoxification processes and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other compounds within the body. Proline, especially when paired with Vitamin C, supports good skin health. Bone broth is also rich in gelatin which improves collagen status and also supports skin health. Gelatin also supports digestive health which is why bone broth plays a critical role in therapeutic diets such as GAPS, SCD, Paleo and AIP. Ever hear that chicken soup is like "Jewish Penicillin"? There's a reason for that! Chicken broth inhibits neutrophil migration; that is, it helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections.

But here's the thing, while bone broth has a ton of wonderful nutrients in it, amino acids, collagen, some minerals, etc. there's one thing that people make an assumption about and that is that "bone broth contains a lot of calcium". Fascinating to learn in this AHS 14 Presentation by Kaayla Daniel, Ph. D, that bone broth only contains calcium if there are lots of vegetables cooked with the bones! Pretty interesting huh? 

For most people, they think it's a hassle to make or that you have to use scary ingredients (like chicken feet). But really, Im here to tell you that its super simple and with a few tricks I have collected over the years, making bone broth is easy to do and easy to use! No need to fret about the bones any more than making sure you are sourcing bones from pasture raised animals. If you don't know how to make bone broth, I use the technique outlined at Zenbelly's site.

Good broth will resurrect the dead
— South American Proverb

Tips and Tricks for Simple Broth

  1. Save all the bones! This is pretty basic, but if you cook entire chickens, turkeys, or cuts of meat with bones in them, just save them. I have two plastic bags in the freezer that I dump all the bones into: one for poultry and one for beef/pork/lamb bones. I will toss the bones (not picked clean mind you - I use the extra meaty bits for flavor) into the bags and save them until I have enough for making a batch.
  2. Save the veggie bits too! The veggies, as we know now, provide a lot of the minerals in broth. Plus they add a lot of flavor. If I have a bunch of coriander stems, carrot ends, broccoli stems when trimming my veg, then I will toss those in the freezer too to save for making a batch of bone broth! My friend Simone over at Zenbelly does this too!
  3. Use Soup Socks! What? What the heck is a Soup Sock? Seriously makes the whole bone broth process super simple. I stick my bag-o-bones, my bag-o-veg and some smashed cloves of garlic into a soup sock (basically a huge net "stocking" to hold all the goodies in), tie it up and plop it into my Instant Pot (see #4). When the broth is done, I simply pull out the one large "sock" of stuff in one step - no fishing for bones with tongs, no ladling into a strainer... Saves a ton time.
  4. Instant Pot - As if you didn't already have reasons to get one of these! Bottom line, you can make super broth in 2-4 hours instead of 12-36 hours! Its like getting a Tardis without the whole "its bigger on the inside" bit. Plus the Instant Pot is a true kitchen multi-tasker and totally worth it! I pressure cook my broth about 4 hours each time I make it.
  5. Reduce - Simone (Zenbelly) is a self-proclaimed (and rightfully so) Bone Broth Jedi Master. If you read her tutorial, take note of her reduction step. This is the key to making the most gelatin-laden savory "jello" out there. When my batch is done in the Instant Pot, I switch modes to low sauté, this gives me a nice simmer and I let it reduce for 30-60 minutes. Perfect gelling every time. 
  6. Portion Freeze - I often times can't drink/use as much broth as I make in a batch. And instead of wasting it, I freeze it. But freezing in mason jars is impractical as I sometimes only need 1/3 cup for braising, etc. And then I found this ice cube tray that makes about 1/3c pucks. So I freeze up my batch into 20-30 of these pucks (bag-o-pucks) that I keep in the freezer. (Do you see the trend here? bag-o-everything!) I pop out ~4 of them to make a mug of broth, or use one as a braising liquid when cooking veg later in the week.

 

 

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No-Sugar Cranberry Cardamom Sauce

CC image courtesy of Susy Morris

CC image courtesy of Susy Morris

When I was a full-on KitchenKlutz™, about the only thing that I could make for Thanksgiving was cranberry sauce. Its pretty fool proof, and doesn't take much time. Plus I didn't have to show up with the cranberry relish with can ridges down the sides of it either! (But if your into that kind of shaped cranberry thing, see below for a gelled option.)

But as I got further into my healing path, and learned more about the negative affects of sugar on health, I started looking for recipes that would satisfy my love for this easy dish yet not add a ton of sugar. I also have to admit, I really don't care for cranberries and citrus combinations. So over the years, I adapted the plain recipe into a crazy-good recipe that most dinner guests rave about. Today Im sharing with all of you my secret cranberry sauce!

So if you are looking for a sauce that doesn't have sugar, or if you got asked to bring something to the festivities and just don't know if you can handle even one dish, look no further! Another bonus: this recipe is Paleo, AIP,  and Whole 30® compliant (if you use date puree).


Recipe: No-Sugar Cranberry Cardamom  Sauce

Ingredients

15 ounces fresh, organic cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup apricot puree*
3 pods cardamom, shelled and ground
2 tbsp cognac (optional)
1-2 tbsp honey or date puree (optional)

Directions

Place the cranberries, water, ground cardamom and apricot puree in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

Stirring occasionally, simmer the mixture until almost all of the cranberries have popped 10-15 minutes.

Then add your sweetener 1 tablespoon at time, just enough to balance the tartness.

If opting for the cognac, then add the cognac and let it cook off for a few more minutes.

Serve immediately or place in jar and keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

NOTES

* If you want a more rustic texture - you're done. If you want a smoother texture blitz with a hand blender or in a food processor until desired consistency. 
* If you want the kind that gels and sets into a mold, then stir in 2 T of Great Lakes gelatin while the sauce is simmering. Then pour into your mold of choice and refrigerate.
* If you don't have apricot puree, soak 3/4 - 1 cup of dried apricots in hot water and blitz with a stick blender or food processor

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Giveaway Time: Paleo Foodie Cookbook

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Time for my first giveaway - a copy of The Paleo Foodie by Arsy Vartanian! I know there is at least one of you out there who wants to win a copy of this great cookbook! All you have to do is enter using the entry form below. Im leaving the sweepstakes open until 9am (Pacific Time) on Thursday the 16th of October.

UPDATE: Congratulations Julie M! You are the winner!! I have emailed you to collect your mailing address.


Friends and family often ask me where I learned how to cook such great food. And when mentioning to clients how I never used to cook, they too ask me how I picked up the skill. I wish I could say that I was born with the Chef Genius genetics, or that I was a Kitchen Wizard. But, the truth of the matter is there are some fantastic cookbooks out there for learning how to cook with real foods that make it all very easy. In the meantime, I have now become one of those cookbook junkies.  But all of my kitchen skills have come from these cookbooks and just practicing each day. Over time, my cooking skills have really improved! Just ask my husband. He has countless stories of nearly burning down the kitchen and ER visits! While common occurrences before, those days are very rare for me now. Thank goodness!

One of those great cookbooks I learned from is the Paleo Foodie Cookbook by my friend Arsy Vartanian of Rubies & Radishes fame. I have made many of the recipes out of Arsy's book (and her other one The Paleo Slow Cooker) and each one of them is delicious! I made her Osso Bucco this past week for guests and they raved about it all evening! Super yummy.

In the meantime, if you too want to look like a Kitchen Wizard or show off some of you Chef Genius genetics, Arsy is allowing me to reprint the Osso Buco recipe from Paleo Foodie. Sooo good!!


Image courtesy of Arsy Vartanian

Image courtesy of Arsy Vartanian

Osso Buco

SERVES 6

There are many reasons to love osso buco, one being the delectable marrow in the center that adds a delicious richness to the sauce. What makes this dish for me, though, is the gremolata, a garnish typically made from chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. I love how the fresh flavors of the herbs brighten up a luscious meal.

Traditionally this dish is made with veal, but if you don’t have access to humanely raised veal, then beef shanks will work, too!

{Toréa's Note: To make this AIP friendly, leave out the pine nuts in the Gremolata and substitute the tomato paste with 2 T of fish sauce.}

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE GREMOLATA:
1 cup/40 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp/20 g pine nuts
2 small cloves garlic or 1 large clove
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp/15 ml fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp/30 ml extra-virgin olive oil 
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp pepper

FOR THE OSSO BUCCO
2 lbs/900 g veal shanks or beef shanks
sea salt and pepper
3 tbsp/43 g ghee
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 tbsp/30 ml tomato paste (preferably from a jar)
1⁄2 cup/120 ml white wine
1 cup/235 ml Beef Broth 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

To make the gremolata, combine all of the ingredients (parsley, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil) in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still chunky. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Generously season the veal with salt and pepper. Melt the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shanks and cook until browned on all sides. Set veal aside and add onion to the pan. Cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, carrots and celery and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, then add wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the shanks back to the pan, along with the beef broth. Cover and simmer over low heat for 11⁄2 hours or until meat is tender, occasionally basting the shanks. To serve, arrange the shanks on dinner plates, spoon a generous amount of sauce from the pan over them, and sprinkle them with gremolata. 

 

Make this dish this week, and I promise you will want to enter my sweepstakes to win a copy for yourself. If you already have your own copy, enter anyway for a great holiday gift or send your friends over to enter to win a copy for themselves! If you enter, make sure to leave me a comment on why you would want Arsy's book

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