I Am My Own Best Chef

As I take a break from packing up my belongings at the farm, I realize once again, I’m LEAVING! Wow, this season flew right by!  I am very excited to head back home with everything I have learned. It has been an incredibly insightful journey – I absolutely know I am leaving with the clearest vision I’ve ever had for what it is I am meant to do, what life it is I am meant to lead.

Although I am excited, I am slightly nervous. Why? Because I am leaving what I consider to be the best food in the world. I can count on one hand the amount of times I ate off farm the past six months: five. That’s right, five. And I have to say four out of those five I was disappointed. The one time I wasn’t I had fruit & mulled apple cider. Does that even count as eating out?? Anyways, the other times the food was way too salty. I know I am salt sensitive so I rarely ever use it but since when did chefs start using so much salt we can’t even taste the real flavor of the meal?

Because I want to eat the best quality of foods possible, prepare them simply, and know what the heck is in them… eating out doesn’t really appeal to me anymore. It is also difficult when I avoid gluten, sugar, most grains, dairy, meat, and salt. I want real food. I want quality food.  My body is my temple and I have to treat it with respect. As should you. This is why I believe I am my own best chef.

On that note I read this article last week about the prevalence of MSG at Whole Foods. I’m not a big fan of anything from a package, so this doesn’t affect me really, but is certainly something worth sharing! Know what you’re buying! Or better yet, make your own versions at home .

As we enter the winter months it is important to continue to eat well & stay active (especially with the holidays coming up!) If you live in the north, be sure to pay attention to your vitamin D intakes. Check out my guest post on vitamin D I wrote for my friend Johanna. I’ve been particularly aware of bone health the past few months as I was experiencing symptoms similar to arthritis in my right hand. The symptoms have more or less cleared, leading me to think it was just from overuse. However, maintaining healthy bones & joints is still a priority.

Eat well & nourish your soul!

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Loving Cabbage (Juice) Is Normal, Right?

I am totally hooked on juicing cabbage! It has been the perfect replacement for cucumber since the stopped producing late summer. The cabbage really contributes to the bulk of the juice, something I cherish in green juice… I want a lot, as in 32 ounces at a crack. It sounds like it would reek havoc on your digestion but I really haven’t had any ill effects. I admit my system is accustomed to eating cabbage nearly everyday now, so it may just be I have a high tolerance. But like I’ve shared before, don’t knock it until you try it! If anything it is doing your body a whole lot of good! Think loads of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.

As my juices change frequently due to what is available here at the farm, I have adapted my first go at cabbage juice a wee bit:

All Hail Cabbage:

1/2 napa cabbage (sometimes 3/4)
1 bunch red russian or dinosaur kale (12-15 leaves)
7-8 parsley stalks
3/4 lemon, with rind*
2 1/2 honeycrisp apples
2″ piece ginger

*Leaving the rind on really accentuates the lemon flavor (essential oils are concentrated in the rind). Lemon peel however is high in oxalates, so note of caution for those with kidney or gallbladder problems.

If you have a high power blender, save the parsley for blending. Juice all other ingredients, add to blender with parsley & blend on high until parsley is liquified. Otherwise, toss parsley right into your juicer. Depending on the style/quality of your juicer, it may not truly be juicing any of the parsley.

This juice is amazing. So, so delicious.

Cabbage isn’t just lovely juiced… but in its much loved fermented form: sauerkraut!

Look at all that cabbage!!

We recently made enough sauerkraut to last a lifetime. This picture probably only captures 10% of how much we went through. Cabbage is certainly in no shortage here! I’ll never complain when fresh veggies are in ample supply. Bring. it. on.

So even if loving cabbage juice isn’t considered “normal“, it’s much adored in my books ;)

Question: What is your favorite way to enjoy cabbage?  

Kale, Kale, Kale!

I received an email from my dear friend Monica yesterday asking what to do with her abundance of kale. As I was typing up an email full of ideas… I realized it it was a great opportunity to share the recipes I love on here. So, whether you find yourself having an abundance of kale, none (like moi), or simply wish to incorporate more into your diet, here are some ideas to get you started or keep you going!

My favorite way to drink kale is in a green juice (scroll down to see a few “daily green” variations). Hands down my favorite green to throw in the juicer.

Another option is to add to smoothies. The green peppermint smoothie is a tasty treat on a hot day and a great alternative to a minty milkshake. Adding a handful of kale to any smoothie will pretty much do the trick. If you find it to be unpalatable, add some more sweet fruit such as peaches, bananas, or apples. Another green smoothie I like comes from Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie and I would just use kale in place of the spinach.

In addition to drinking kale – I love chowing down on this stuff. SO, so good. I love it so much I eat it straight up, I can just munch my way through a kale bed. But most people prefer things to be flavored and prepared, so here are some tasty salads and chip ideas.

Kale Chips

There are so many different ways to prepare kale chips. You can use either a dehydrator or your traditional oven. I have done both and prefer the dehydrator but the oven works does the job just as well!

Preparing the chips can be done in the same for both oven & dehydrator.

Begin with lots of kale. To prepare two baking pans of chips in the oven, I often bring in a entire shopping basket full of kale from the garden. It shrivels up quite a lot, so don’t be shy!

Rinse kale (easiest way to do this is fill a big bowl with cold water – or your sink – and gently wash the kale in the water. Remove from water and shake off water, pat to dry). Roughly chop kale. In large bowl, add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper to taste, and other preferred spices. Add kale to bowl, use hands to coat kale leaves, and spread evenly onto baking sheets or dehydrator sheets.

If baking in an oven: bake at 325 degrees Farenheit for 20-25 minutes. Remove when crispy.

If using the dehydrator: Most recipes call for 12 hours at 105-118 degrees. Basically leave in there until crispy!

Eat right away. I can never seem to keep these longer than a few hours after they are prepared as they become soft and wilty.

Oil, salt & pepper are a great basic recipe. Adding chipotle powder, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cumin, curry, garam masala are all great options. Here we love lots of nutritional yeast and some unlabeled spicy powder that resides in the spick rack. Some great lideas include Sun-dried Tomato Cheezy Kale Chips from Oh She Glows and Spicy & Cheesy Kale Chips from Eating Bird Food.

Curried Kale Salad

This recipe comes from Rebecca’s friend Mary. She made it at our farm’s summer solstice potluck gathering and it went SO fast. A delicious and quick salad.

Wash a bunch or two of kale and de-rib leaves. To de-rib kale, hold at the base of the stem and tear the leaf right off. Thinly slice kale.

Dressing ingredients:

6-7 fresh dates
4 tbsp Braggs aminos (tamari or shoyu)
1 inch fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp curry
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice.

Combine dressing ingredients in blender. Mix and massage dressing into kale for a minute or two until the kale has wilted.

Below are some other great recipe ideas… some that I’ve made and some I have yet to. Once the kale is back in full swing around here I’ll be able to enjoy in these myself.

Sunshine In A Bowl from Peas & Thank You

Summer Kale Salad from The Nourishing Gourmet

My friend Greg from the farm makes a delicious Honey Mustard Dressing that was my staple dressing for kale salad. Greg & I both cook without measuring devices, we basically eye ball everything and taste test along the way. So what I learned from him is to combine ~1/2 C olive oil, 1/4 raw honey, 2-3 tablespoons dijon mustard, and either a touch of water or apple cider vinegar. Combine in a blender and massage into a bowl full of chopped kale. Sprinkle on sesame seeds, raisins and/or walnuts.

Hope this inspires you to enjoy some kale! There are hoards of great recipes ideas online. I am always looking for new ideas, particularly those that are others favorites, so do share if you have a favorite! I’m patiently awaiting our plants to grow back!

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Caraway Sauerkraut

So many wonderful foods are born via fermentation. Kombucha, beer, wine, vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, yogurt… the list is endless and I love them all!

Earlier this spring I finally ordered Wild Fermentation, the bible equivalent for fermented foods. This book is both very user friendly as well as informative as the author thoroughly explains the benefits of fermented foods.

Even though this book contains delicious sounding sauerkrauts that I intend to make in the near future, the caraway sauerkraut my mom and I made last week I picked up elsewhere. The recipe we followed came from Crock and Jar, a food preservation company based out of NYC. I know from sampling some earlier this winter at the Just Food Conference that this kraut is SO delicious.

Even though I have a special place in my heart for Bubbie’s sauerkraut (& pickles!) there are no more excuses to buy sauerkraut when it is so easy and cheap to make right in your own kitchen. If making sauerkraut isn’t something that interests you – at least do yourself the favor of buying Bubbie’s raw kraut at some point. This brand is unpasteurized (retaining all nutrients and good bacteria) while not overwhelmingly salty like others can be.

Caraway Sauerkraut

yield: ~1 1/2 quarts

3 lbs green cabbage (any mix of cabbage will do)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (do not use iodized salt or anything with an anti-caking agent)
2 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1. Remove outer leaves of cabbage and cut into quarters. Remove the cores and slice each wedge into 1/4 inch wide strips. Place into large bowl and add some salt and seeds to allow the cabbage to release some of its water. Continue cutting and adding salt until its all finished.
2. Massage cabbage to help the salt remove the water. Put cabbage in a tall container (half-gallon or two quart jars).
3. Firmly press down cabbage with your fist until it is covered with its own liquid.
4. Cover the cabbage with a few outer leaves. Weigh down the cabbage with a glass jar full of water.
5. Cover container with a towel or loose lid and place in a cool place to ferment.
6. Check in one week: remove the weight and wash off any mold and remove any rotten spots. Cabbage (kraut) below these spots are entirely fine . Taste to check the progress. Press cabbage down to submerge in brine.
7. Replace clean jar, cover container and return to cool spot. Continue to check the cabbage 1x/week. Cabbage should ferment for 3-6 weeks. Once the cabbage is sour enough for your taste preferences, put it in a clean container and store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Enjoy!

For Health’s Sake

So, why have I suddenly introduced meat and dairy back into my diet?! Here is a quick low-down:

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am on the quest to increase my levels of estrogen as they are hovering zero and have been for quite some time. Two summers ago when I went off birth control, with that went my cycle. At first I thought nothing of it – I figured my body was adjusting to the change and my shift to a mostly raw vegan diet. Well, months passed and still nothing. Against my will my doctor put me on HRT for two weeks and still nada. I continued to ignore it. I left for Hawaii 6 months later thinking my body would naturally heal as I spent nearly 22 hours a day outdoors – I was banking on the connection I had to the earth & its natural rhythms. No go. Continued to ignore, ignore, ignore. I will add all this “ignoring” is unlike me. I would consider myself quite health conscious and gladly refer to myself as a hypochondriac.

A few weeks ago I had more blood work done after I met with an endocrinologist and hearing the words “zero estrogen” finally woke me up. Maybe I simply had to hear the word zero. The doc told me to stop working out (not gonna happen). She offered absolutely no nutritional advice and I walked out of that office entirely frustrated. I refuse to not get exercise in some way, shape, or form. So I did my own research and concluded I simply need good hormones and nutrients straight from the source. Happy, healthy animals. Therefore, I have introduced grass-fed meat & eggs, raw milk/butter, and organic yogurt back into my diet. As soon as I had my omnivore “epiphany” – something inside me woke up and overnight I not only accepted this but could not wait to get my hands (and mouth) on these foods.

Sadly my skin didn’t like the addition of raw milk and/or yogurt – so I may need to limit these or just the milk.  I will have to do an elimination test to figure out if one or both of them were the cause. But the meat? Body seems to love it.

Last week I made my first ever bowl of dippy eggs. Dippy eggs?! yea, I’d never heard of them either until Chelsea started talking about them and I thought she was crazzzy (jk Chels – you’re actually just genius). To start I lightly steamed some broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale  & tossed with a tbsp of olive oil, minced garlic, bit of lemon juice, dried herbs and pepper. Next I poached one egg white and one whole egg (leaving yolk intact). I put some veggies in a bowl, topped with the eggs, split the yolk to run all over, added some hot sauce and voila! Dipppppy eggs! It’s really no different than “over easy” or “sunny side up” eggs but the name is way cuter and is now forever part of my lingo.

I have embraced this diet 100%, clearly. My body has gone through a lot of changes and stress over the past couple years – all starting with the birth control – and now I must listen to its messages to heal it. Although I felt healthy during the past two years – my body was screaming SOS . I do not believe any of this happened merely from a vegan diet. I know I was getting sufficient nutrients- maybe a wee low on B12 – but otherwise I was perfectly healthy. I entirely blame the wackiness of birth control and will never, ever put myself on synthetic hormones again. Blah!

So, there you have it! I very much enjoyed my bison burger tonight, sans bun, covered in grilled onion, mushrooms, guacamole & salsa. I already want another!

 

 

Per Anna’s request here are some delicious snacky combos I have enjoyed in the past few weeks:

Red pepper or horseradish Greek Gourmet hummus (Pittsburgh co.) with Lundberg’s salt-free brown rice cakes. devine.

Plain organic Siggi’s yogurt with 1 – 2 tsp bee pollen & a few dried mullberries. Locate Siggi’s at your local Whole Foods.

Medjool dates dipped in nut butter. Dates & nuts go together like peas in a pod.

Raw, organic milk with puffed corn cereal. heck yeah. raw milk is AMAZING – and I’ve never cared for milk, ever. Raw trumps all.

Homemade popcorn with a bit of melted organic butter & pepper.

Try these snacks (and dippy eggs) out! They are truly delicious!