Clearly…these are NOT vegetables.

veg photo for blog

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Came across yet another “healthy” snack food at the local natural food market in Ft Collins yesterday. These and all the rest are not healthy and they are not good for you. Highly processed, and what I call “food fractions”… Along with a rancid oil that is HIGHLY inflammatory, due to the high percentage of Omega 6s. Not to mention the “natural flavors” thrown in for good measure (who knows what they are– usually contain MSG and gluten, BTW) and…a lot of starch–beans… Rice…. potato starch-(read SUGAR as your body knows it is and will process it as such). Sounds like a blood sugar spike full of empty calories just waiting to happen!

If you are hungry, snack on real food folks. Grab a bunch of carrots and radishes and cucumber slices and celery sticks… Add anchovy dip or Caesar dip or Roquefort dip and your body is good to go. Carbs (which vegetables are) with fat to modulate the sugar impact AND assist in the absorption of those vitamins and nutrients. Your body AND your brain will thank you.

That’s all for now. Snack tip of the day. Enjoy!
:)

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Easy Peasy Chicken Soup!! These cold winter days…

and nights make one long for a bowl of warm, nourishing, delicious and delightful soup! I know I do!!

soup

’tis the season to make a big pot of soup at least once a week! I thought I’d share one of the easiest ways to make homemade chicken soup when your time is limited. I’d call this one a “shortcut” recipe! Obviously, it would be great if you could do the whole thing from scratch, but let’s face it, folks–sometimes you can’t. This one’s for for you, the Busy, Time-Strapped Person! (and aren’t we all, some days?!!)

So…

Easy Peasy (Shortcut) Chicken Soup!

1 roasted chicken

a bunch of vegetables you love, or ones you happen to have in the refrigerator. The usual suspects: carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, mushrooms…(can also add beet stems and or beet greens or chard, or any other veg you love!) Use what you love; don’t use what you don’t.

2-3 T of a healthy fat you love: ghee, pastured butter, schmaltz, bacon fat, lard, duck fat…coconut oil, etc.

2 quarts chicken or other stock…

good salt and freshly ground pepper

thyme…or oregano or rosemary or basil or a combination…dried or fresh. 1 T dried or 3 T fresh…

tomatoes…diced or ground. (I love the new tomatoes in glass jars…Bionaturae is one brand in glass…no BPA for me!) optional but a delicious addition!!

Making the soup: A basic template

1. Purchase an organic roasted chicken. (Yes, I said “purchase”. Remember, this is a shortcut recipe. Yes, purchase it at your local supermarket..WF carries them…so do other stores. Some offer only “natural” roasted chickens. Neither are the best. The best would be a chicken that you roasted yourself that was raised on pasture eating bugs and supplemented with non-GMO feed. The next best is an “organic” chicken…which means only that the feed was organic–the chicken may never have eaten a bug in its life. Chickens are omnivores… A nutritionally inferior chicken for your soup, but better than a “natural” chicken. One can probably bet that those “natural” chickens were fed GMO feed…and it says nothing about their quality of life. So the choice is yours. Do the best you can and then make peace with your choice.)

2. Place desired fat in a 4-5 quart Dutch Oven, over medium-low heat.

3. Dice (into uniform sizes) about 3-4 carrots, 3-4 celery ribs, one medium onion, 2 medium zucchinis, a handful of mushrooms. (Organic is best…)

4. Add the carrots and celery first, along  with about 1 tsp. Celtic or other high trace mineral content salt; cook over medium-low heat with the lid on for about 5-7 minutes.

5. Add the onion, zucchini and mushrooms. Cook about 4-5 minutes with the lid on.

6. Add 2 quarts of chicken stock you have in the freezer. (I know, I snuck that one in on you. If you don’t have chicken stock in your freezer, very sad. However, since this is a “shortcut” recipe, you could purchase some from the store or from your local farmer! Just be sure to get “pastured” stock–and check the ingredients. Stock should only be bones, vegetables, water and salt or herbs. Some brands are sneaking in cane sugar, soy protein and/or MSG. Read the ingredient labels!! The front of the box does not always tell the full story.)

7. Bring the stock to a boil and skim and discard any scum. Lower the heat to medium.

8. Add the chicken meat, which you diced while everything else was cooking. (About 2 cups) Add the tomatoes if you are going to use them. Add the herbs at this time, additional salt and about 4-5 good grinds of pepper. Heat the soup through for about 10 minutes.

9. Serve with a dollop of cultured cream, yogurt, ghee or pastured butter in each bowl.

Enjoy!!

BTW, you can use this recipe as a template for any other meat you have around…beef, lamb, etc. Just be sure the flavors of the fat, the stock, the meat or poultry, and the herbs/spices all complement each other. :)

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Meat Stock…What it is, and Why I Love it! And you will, too…

I LOVE meat stock. I love meat stock. Meat stock.

I also love bone broth. But meat stock is different than bone broth.

In the world of stock and broth…I am speaking especially to those following the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet…and those who are consuming a lot of stock on a daily basis…to heal their guts, to take in electrolytic minerals, to supply them with easily absorbed nutrients…somehow “meat stock” has been missed. And what a fatal flaw that is, because meat stock makes your life sooooo much easier-both for those on the GAPS diet, and for those of us other folks, who are just trying to eat well to be well.

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Meat stock is a treasure in the world of nutrient-dense foods… for those of us who are “real foodies”, Weston A. Price-ers, “traditional foodies”…and anyone who is wanting to make the most of their food dollar and their health. Most of us, that is.

The clue is in the words…”meat” stock and “bone” broth. They say a lot about the differences between the two. One is made from meat that has some bones; the other is made from bones. One is cooked for a relatively short time; the other for a very long time, sometimes up to 72 hours!

The gift of meat stock is threefold: it gives you a meal to eat and gelatinous broth to drink. Then it gives you bones you may use as boney bones for bone broth! What a deal!!

So here’s how it’s done. Please take care to use the best quality poultry or meat that you can buy. That means pastured poultry or grass-fed meat. It matters…to the Earth, the animals, and to our bodies.

Meat Stock by Monica

Obtain 2-3 pounds of meat with a bone in it. (This can be legs or thighs or quarters of a chicken or turkey or other fowl…it can be a whole or half chicken cut up. Please include the skin. Lamb shanks…beef shanks…ox tails…meaty neck bones…you get the idea.) Place the meaty bones in a 4-6 quart Dutch oven. (You may also use a crock pot if you prefer; this will lengthen the cook time. See below.)

Cover with water. Usually 1.5-2 quarts of pure, cold water

Add herbs that you love. Fresh rosemary or thyme…tied is best, so you may remove them later…and a slight handful of black or green peppercorns, whole.

Add any vegetables that you love…the usual candidates are carrots, celery and onion, but you could add other veggies if you like–mushrooms, zucchini. (Do not use potatoes or sweet potatoes or any starchy vegetables…they will cloud the stock. Stay away from broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage at this stage, they will turn the stock bitter, and you will wind up throwing it out. Boo. :( ) If you use carrots, celery and onion, I would use 3, 3, 1 or 3, 2, 1 or so. Onions can overpower if you add too many.

Bring to a boil over high heat.

Skim and discard any scum that surfaces. 

After you have skimmed most of the scum off of the top of the water, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. (Note: do not spend a lot of time on this. You can lose some of the glorious fat if you do. Hint: wait until there is a good amount of scum on the surface, and then begin to skim. It will look like white foam, and may become quite thick depending on the quality of the bones you used.)

Cook, covered. 

If it is poultry, cook 1.5-2 hours.

If it is lamb, cook 3-4 hours

If it is beef or bison, cook 4-6 hours, or longer (8-10 most)

(If you are using a crock pot, double the hours approximately.)

Serve. 

When you serve, serve the meat and the vegetables and a cup of stock on the side to drink. (Remember to add good quality Celtic sea salt and pastured butter or ghee. The salt will give you trace minerals your body needs, and the healthy fat will help your body to absorb the vitamins from the food.)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm so good and healing and warming on these cold, snowy Winter days.

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Gelatinous meat stock

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Save the bones for your next round of bone broth. If you don’t have enough to start a batch right away, (approx. 4 pound of chicken bones or 7 pounds of beef or bison bones), you may wish to store them in a freezer bag once they’ve cooled. For more information about making bone broth from those leftover bones, check out my article, Healing Soups series: Let’s Step Back to Stock http://simplybeingwell.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/healing-soups-series-lets-step-back-to-stock/

Enjoy!!

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Cook those bones! Turkey Stock recipe…!

One of my favorite things about the day after Thanksgiving is putting the carcass and all the bones up for turkey stock! For those of you who would like one, here’s a recipe. Enjoy!!

Ummm Ummm…Turkey Stock!

bones and carcass

skin (unless you prefer to make cracklins with yours!)

pure cold water to cover (depending on the size of the bird and the size of your pot, you will need approximately 4-6 quarts of water. Just be sure that all the bones in the pot are covered by about an inch of water.)

1/2 cup mild vinegar (apple cider vinegar works well)

3 carrots, washed and chopped coarsely

3 celery sticks, washed and chopped coarsely

1 large onion, rinsed and quartered (if it is organic, throw the skins in too–they will lend beautiful color to your stock)

slight handful of black peppercorns

  • Place the bones and skin in a heavy gauge, 18/10 stainless steel stock pot. (The best stock pots are tall and narrow, so that there is not a large surface area which will cause you to lose stock as it simmers.)
  • Cover with pure, cold water. (See above about how much. Too much water will keep your stock from becoming gelatinous when it is cooled in the refrigerator later.)
  • Add vinegar and let stand for 30 minutes-1 hour at room temperature. (The vinegar will work to draw the minerals out of the bones into the stock.)
  • Bring the pot to a boil, skim and discard the scum. (You may use a flat spoon, a ladle or a skimmer–love them!–to skim the scum. Skimming is an art. You don’t want to skim off all the fat with the scum, or you will have a very flat-tasting stock. I suggest waiting until you see a lot of little bubbles on the top of the stock, and then skim for a few minutes. If the bones are good, you will not need to skim very long.)
Turkey stock with scum

Turkey stock with scum. I added the vegetables with the bones, so I’ll have fun skimming around the veggies!

  • Add the vegetables. (You may choose to add the vegetables prior to bringing the pot to a boil. Either way is fine–earlier or later in the process. If you place the vegetables in with the bones, you will have the pleasure of skimming around all the veggies. Some people love that…some would rather put them in after skimming the scum, so they don’t have to go around them.)
Skimming the scum off turkey stock

Skimming the scum off the turkey stock. I am using a skimmer, but you could also use a spoon or ladle, which I did for years!

  • Bring the pot to a boil again if you just added vegetables.
  • Lower the heat to a simmer. The temperature that your stock cooks at is important. You will be at a perfect temperature when you see movement under a relatively still top of the stock.
  • Simmer for 25-35 hours or so. (Note: You do not need to leave the pot on continuously if you do not want to. You may use what I call “cumulative time”; that is, adding up the time you simmer it. Each time you turn it off, just remember to bring the pot to a boil upon returning and skim and discard the scum. Then turn the heat back down to a simmer. :) )
  • You will know that the stock is “done” when all of the cartilage has been dissolved and you can crumble the bones in your hands with light pressure.
  • Strain the stock and cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator. Hint: a long and shallow pan will allow the stock to cool more quickly because of the increased surface area.

Here’s what the stock should look like when it is cooled:

cooled turkey stock

Cooled turkey stock! The top layer is fat; very good for cooking!

 

Cooled stock in hand

When the stock is truly gelatinous, you can cut a cube and hold it in your hand!

Enjoy!

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Wild Rice Stuffing with Sausage…Gluten-free Thanksgiving Delight!

Hi all!

First of all, please know I am thankful for all of YOU!

I thought I’d share the recipe I’ll be serving on our Thanksgiving table, as I have often been asked for a bread-free, gluten-free, real food stuffing for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy it!

Wild Rice Stuffing with Sausage!

serves 4-6

2 cups chicken or turkey stock

1 cup wild rice or wild rice blend (Lundberg’s is a good choice!)

¾ tsp sea salt

1-1.5 pounds bulk sage breakfast sausage (can also use a combination of sweet and hot Italian sausages either bulk or link with the casings removed)

1 large onion, chopped medium

6 stalks celery, chopped fine

1 1/4 sticks butter, divided

3 medium Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled, cored, small dice

3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries, unsweetened

1/2 cup packed fresh sage leaves, chopped first or 1.5 T dried sage

1/2 cup chicken stock

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  • Bring stock to a boil and skim any scum. Add wild rice or wild rice blend and salt, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and cook covered until rice is tender and has split open, about an hour. Drain well in a colander and set aside in a medium bowl. (You may retain the stock from the colander to use later.) Note: if you use a wild rice blend, you will not have any stock to drain!
  • Sauté sausage in very large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking into pieces with spoon, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl; add wild rice.
  • Add onions and celery to same skillet and sauté in the sausage fat until golden brown, about 10 minutes; remove and add to sausage and wild rice mixture.
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes; mix apples into wild rice mixture.
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet. Add sage and sauté until dark green, about 2 minutes. Mix sage and butter into wild rice mixture. (Alternatively, melt the butter and pour into wild rice mixture, adding ground sage and stirring well.) Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add raisins or dried cranberries to wild rice mixture.
  • Butter 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon wild rice mixture into prepared dish; drizzle with 1/2 cup chicken stock. Cover with foil. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake stuffing covered until heated through, about 1 hour. Uncover and bake until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Now you have stuffing!

Note: You may also stuff the turkey with this mixture. Just place any that does not fit into the cavity in a buttered glass baking dish and bake as above. Stuffing the turkey will increase the amount of time you will need to bake the turkey.

Note: If you are looking for butter substitutes because of allergies, you may consider: ghee (no lactose or casein) lard, or refined coconut oil (which will not have any coconut flavor) or a mixture of them

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Toss those Calcium Supplements!

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Don’t believe it when those calcium supplements say “absorbable” on the label. Most calcium pills or chewables are not absorbed by the body and end up in your toilet at best, OR in places in your body where they are not supposed to be at worst. They certainly do NOT end up in your bones!!!

I am teaching a series of food-based calcium classes starting tomorrow in Fort Collins. It is a series I first developed and delivered more than six years ago at Crossings: A Center for the Healing Traditions, in Silver Spring, Maryland, as part of a Menopause Series I created at the time. I am revisiting the material and tweaking it; I SO enjoy the crafting and creation of classes. (And the delivery of course!)

I am reviving these classes because I KNOW they are so important. I am offering these classes because I am now personally experiencing a deep need for calcium on a daily basis. “Why?” you ask. Because I myself am on the brink of menopause. And you? Are you pre-menopausal or menopausal? Do you have osteoporosis? Are you a woman of child-bearing age? Pregnant? A nursing mom? The reality is that ALL bodies need calcium. Women, men, children. For very good reasons. And we are not getting enough of it in our diets…for lots of reasons…inferior milk and dairy products from conventional sources, low-fat diets, a lack of Vitamins A, D and K…

Yes, all bodies need calcium. Growing children need calcium for strong bones. Women need calcium during the child-bearing years, during pregnancy, lactation, pre-menopause, during menopause and after.  Susun Weed says: “Calcium is, without a doubt, the most important mineral in your body. In fact, calcium makes up more than half of the total mineral content of your body. Calcium is crucial to the regular beating of your heart, your metabolism, the functioning of your muscles, the flow of impulses along your nerves, the regulation of your cellular membranes, the strength of your bones, the health of your teeth and gums, and your vital blood- clotting mechanisms. Calcium is so critical to your life that you have a gland (the parathyroid) that does little else than monitor blood levels of calcium and secrete hormones to insure optimum levels of calcium at all times.” WOW. Calcium. Very important, I’d say. Really a good idea to be sure you are getting enough calcium IN YOUR DIET. The foods you eat and the beverages you drink. And I am not talking about more dairy, folks. (Although fresh, raw dairy IS one of the best sources of easily assimilated calcium for the body!)

There are all sorts of things we eat on a regular basis that are “calcium antagonists”, substances that contribute to calcium loss (those that cause calcium to leach from the bones) or interfere with its utilization in the body. Most people consume them on a daily basis. OY. Some of the worst calcium antagonists are coffee and carbonated beverages, aka soda, or pop. More on those two another time. (Gotta keep you reading! ;) )

So…I am teaching a class on Food Sources of Calcium tomorrow night, July 25, and another on High Calcium Teas and Vinegars on Thursday, August 22, in Fort Collins. I hope you will join me to learn about how you can have more easily absorbed calcium in your diet…and how to ensure it IS absorbed! You may find more information at http://www.cookingforwell-being.com/Classes.html. Go to Calendar. I look forward to cooking with you! Oh yes, this will be fun!!!

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Allergies? Heal and seal your gut!

So many people with so many allergies. Allergies, sensitivities and intolerances…to foods, to ingredients, to dust, to plants, trees and pollen, to environmental toxins. How about you?

So many times moms have come to work with me in my private practice for help crafting a food plan for their child, having just received their food allergy/sensitivity test results for their child. They have come exasperated, feeling desperate. The previous test may have revealed 5 or 6 “trigger foods”…now the number was 30. What were they going to feed their child? How could we craft a diet or menu that was appealing with all of these restrictions? How could we craft a menu that they would eat? Overwhelming! I have even had some clients with more than 120 foods that had been identified as no good. Funny, every time they went for the next test, the number of trigger foods, or those that were not allowed from that point on, increased.

Why?

It is not that the foods themselves are inherently evil or bad. I have often said that gluten is the current “fall guy”. This week you react to wheat, next week it’s gluten. The next week, gluten and casein…The next week it’s gluten, casein, and eggs. The next week it’s gluten, casein, eggs, chicken, and green beans. Or carrots. Or coconut. Or herring. And so on. And so on. And so on, until you or your child seem to be reacting to just about everything. What is going on?

The body, specifically the small intestine, is injured…porous…leaky…and all of the molecules become reactive foods.

All allergies can be traced to the state of health of the gut lining.

When your small intestine lining has holes in it, not only are food molecules not broken down or digested as they need to be in order for the body to utilize them, but they also pass through the holes and into the bloodstream as foreign molecules. Foreign molecules in the blood mean that the body is going to respond with an allergic reaction or sensitivity or intolerance to the food at the least. If this goes on for years, autoimmune disorders may result…

So…what to do?

Surgery isn’t going to do it, folks. Nor are pharmaceuticals. The problem is in the gut…so the medicine is food. And while no diet can claim to do everything for all people, I have found one that does a lot to heal and seal the gut. It is the GAPS diet… the Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. (For more information about the GAPS Diet, see www.gaps.me.)

Are you, too, gluten-free? casein-free? wheat-free? dairy-free? Have multiple allergies or sensitivities? Are you tired of it? Check out the GAPS diet.

I will be teaching about how to heal and seal the gut this Saturday, June 8 in Fort Collins, CO. The class is Implementing the Intro Diet.  (aka, HEAL IT AND SEAL IT!)

I will be teaching a GAPS Cooking Weekend in Silver Spring, MD August 9-10. All the cooking techniques you need to implement the diet with confidence.  Dr. Joseph Mercola called these cooking classes “ground-breaking.” More information about that weekend here.

The bottom line, folks…heal it and seal it. It all begins with the food.

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