Yesterday I got to have lunch with some friends at a neighbor's house. We each brought something; Emily, whose house we met at, made Apple Butternut Squash Soup
; this link goes to the recipe on her
I had lots and lots of Romaine lettuce on hand, thanks to another friend... so a salad seemed in order. I started out intending to make honey-mustard dressing, but it lacked something... so I looked around the kitchen to see what to use. In went some orange peel and the white parts of some green onions.
That was good!
Next about a pound of lettuce and the green parts of three green onions were mixed with around half of the dressing; just enough]to lightly coat. Then four or five sliced hardboiled eggs went on top, 4 oz. of cubed cheese, and a big handful of toasted pecan pieces.
Everyone loved it, except the person who didn't try it because she's allergic to eggs and nuts. :/
This would be delicious brushed onto chicken a few minutes before done baking.Honey-Orange Dressing Makes about 1 cup
1/4-1/3 c. honey (depends if you want this more sweet or more tangy)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper (I used 2 drops of essential oil)
2 Tbsp. onion (I used the bottom 1 1/2" from 3 green onions)
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest (I used about half the peel from a clementine)
Throw everything into a blender; puree until smooth.
Elderberry syrup is known as a wonderful immunity booster and antiviral- which means it'll help knock down the flu or any other virus-caused illness. It's also really, really delicious on pancakes. Or a splash added to desserts or fruit salads. Or brushed on a spice cake. Or mixed with chilled sparkling water. Or... you get the idea.
Now that there's a jar in my fridge, I may have to watch to be sure my children don't sneak in and use up all my 'medicine'. Just for that reason, I wax-sealed the lids on the jars I plan to share with others.
I've already used it. My family has had a nasty cold or flu this week; we've had missed school days and work days from it. Yesterday it hit me hard, and felt like it was on the verge of turning into bronchitis or pneumonia. I've been taking either elderberry infusion (tea) or the syrup at least three times a day since feeling it come on a couple days ago, and today I feel much better. I suppose that may or may not have anything to do with the elderberries... but I'm keeping the routine up until I'm better! Yum.
I started with 2 pounds of berries, used a steam juicer, and the first 2-3 cups of juice were nice and dark; strong enough to use without boiling to condense it. The longer the berries steamed, though, the lighter the juice got, so I boiled down the last three cups to yield about 1 1/2 cups.
You'll notice in the photos below that some of those berries don't look exactly the same as the others... I have a young hawthorn tree. It produces berries, but not yet enough to make a batch of anything yet. The haw berries are said to be good for reducing inflammation (as well as normalizing blood pressure and helping strengthen and regulate the heart)- so I threw them in with my elderberries. Honey is used in this instead of sugar because of its soothing, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties.
If you want to make a wax seal, paraffin works great. I had a small ball of red cheese wax I'd saved, and used that.Elderberry Syrup
Start with 2-3 cups elderberry juice
(depending on strength)- if not strong, boil to reduce to 2 cups. To the warm, NOT hot juice (if you want to preserve the enzymes if using raw honey), stir in these ingredients: 2 cups honey
5 drops ginger essential oil
3 drops cinnamon essential oil
2 drops clove essential oil
Store in the refrigerator. Probably best used within a couple months- though I've had syrups stay nice for a year, refrigerated. You could store them longer if you seal them in sterilized jars.
To use medicinally, take a tablespoon straight or mixed in 6-8 oz warm water, every 3 hours if you're sick and an adult, or take once a day as a general immunity booster. See the label below for more details.
If you want to start with berries but don't have a steam juicer, and want to use the spices themselves instead of essential oils, combine 4 oz (2/3 c.) berries in 3 ½ c. water, a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and ½ tsp. cloves; Simmer until water is reduced by almost half; strain, pressing on the berries. Cool until just warm, stir in honey.
On a related note, you can use jelly to make gourmet pancake syrup: see here
There's nothing like fresh fruit in the summer, warm off a tree, juice dripping down your chin.
However, if you want a little variety with summer's luscious bounty, here's something simple yet delicious. It's best with fruit from the farmers' market or your own trees, but supermarket fruit will do in a pinch, though you'll want to add about 5 minutes to the baking time and maybe add an extra tablespoon of brown sugar.
Baked Peaches with Fresh Raspberries
4 ripe peaches or nectarines
1-2 Tbsp. brown sugar (1 Tbsp. for very sweet, ripe peaches)- or use 1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sour cream, vanilla yogurt, or good-quality balsamic vinegar
a handful of fresh raspberries (about 1 1/2 ounces, or 1/4 cup)
Turn on oven to 400 degrees F. Spend the next five minutes washing, drying, then halving and removing the pits from the peaches or nectarines. Set the peach halves on a baking sheet, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Pop them into the still-heating oven and set a timer for 15 minutes. You want them to be warmed through, just starting to soften a little, and for the brown sugar to be melted. Set the oven to broil, and put the peaches on the highest rack in the oven for ONE minute. Remove from the oven.
Stir the sour cream or yogurt with just enough water to make it a drizzling consistency, or use the balsamic straight. Drizzle over the top, then add raspberries. Eat while warm, spooning the juices from the bottom of the baking dish over the topl
Do you love whipped cream but wished it would stay fluffy like whipped topping does?
Cool-Whip, move over; your superior is here! Airy, melt-in-your-mouth, delicately sweet, no hard-to-pronounce ingredients- what could be better?
Use this for topping pies, gelatin, cakes or cupcakes, or anything else you like! Stir in a little caramel sauce and it's either an amazing dip for apples or an incredible cake filling. Fold in some melted and cooled chocolate for a mousse-like topping. White chocolate is delicious mixed in.
The version below that uses gelatin gives the most firmness. I've kept it in the fridge for two weeks before, without the faintest hint
Yes, you can use this to decorate cakes! (Just don't let it get too warm, it will melt if it gets above about 90 degrees F, just like butter does.) This picture is my niece's wedding cake.
If you can't have dairy, use 8 ounces of chilled coconut cream to replace the dairy cream. Not cream of coconut, that's different. Coconut cream is the thick layer you find on top of canned coconut milk; Asian markets sell cans of straight coconut cream.
Stabilized whipped cream
½ pint whipping cream (8 oz)
½ tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. sugar or ¼ c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. Ultra Gel OR 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin*
If using Ultra Gel, stir it with the sugar, then add cream and vanilla and whip until stiff.
If using gelatin, put it with a tablespoon of water, let it sit a minute to soften, then microwave for 12 seconds to dissolve it. You could heat gently on a stove, if needed. Don't let it boil. Whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until they start to thicken a little, then slowly pour gelatin in while still beating. Whip until stiff. Chill it if you need it a little thicker.
Store any extra in the refrigerator.
*Other ways to stabilize whipped cream:
(you can skip the Ultra Gel and gelatin if you use these)
-fold in 4-8 ounces melted and cooled chocolate (the more you use, the more truffle-like the frosting/mousse will be. Also, the darker the chocolate, the less you need.)
-Beat in 2-4 ounces of cream cheese.
-Before whipping, sprinkle in half a package of instant pudding powder. (This is really adding Ultra Gel, which is part of the pudding mix.)
-Substitute 1 1/2 -2 Tbsp honey or corn syrup in place of the sugar, or 3 Tbsp. any flavor jam or jelly. This will only lightly stabilize it, but works for things you'll eat in the next couple hours.
These have fiber, protein, and much lower in sugar than almost any baked treat! And they really are good. My family snarfed down this batch.
Besides all that, they're also wheat-free and dairy-free.
Healthy Peanut Butter-Chocolate-Banana Bars
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (one can, drained and rinsed)
2 ripe medium bananas
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. brown sugar or honey (1/2 c sugar. if you like things on the sweeter side)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. chocolate chips (the darker the better)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Put the beans, eggs, bananas, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in a food processor or high-powered blender. Run until very smooth. Stir in the baking powder, salt and oats. Spread in a greased 8x8 pan then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake 30 minutes or til test done with a toothpick. Cool at least 15 minutes before cutting. These are even better the next day.
For a variation on this, substitute pumpkin puree for the banana, increase sugar/honey to 1/2 c., replace almond or cashew butter for the peanut butter, then add 1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
Apparently these have been popular in the food world for about a year... but I first saw them last week. My oldest son, the pickiest eater in the house, had noticed the printed recipe sitting on the counter for several days, grimacing everytime he walked past it. So when a batch of brownies appeared out of the oven, he cocked an eyebrow at me, asking "Are these what I think they are?", then declared he would NOT eat them.
After everyone else begged for seconds, though, he decided he'd try just one bite. Then a whole brownie. Then he had seconds too.
(YEAH!)Black Bean Brownies
1 1/4 c. cooked black beans, rinsed (about a 15-oz can or 1/2 c. dry beans- cook first)
1/4 c. melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2- 2/3 cup honey OR 3/4-1 cup sugar (brownies with the higher amounts are sweeter and more moist)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup whole wheat flour, OR 1/2 c.gluten-free flour plus 1 tsp. xanthan gum
½ teaspoon almond extract or orange extract, optional
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9x13 pan. Combine beans, eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and almond/orange extract (if using) in a food processor or blender. Puree until very smooth. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the puree over top, then mix both together. Stir in walnuts if using. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake about 25 minutes or until center tests done with a toothpick.
To make these into Chocolate Truffle Brownies, omit the chocolate chips and frost with my favorite-ever chocolate frosting: creamy, soft, oh-so-smooth Chocolate Blender Frosting
My no-butter spread still tastes like butter plus is made with healthy fats. The spread is in the container; dairy butter is on the left for comparison.
I am so excited!
But first- if you've noticed a shift towards gluten-free and dairy-free recipes lately, good noticing! I. Love. Dairy. I even milked a cow every day as a teenager so I had the fresh great stuff. But sometimes people have health problems with certain foods. So far we've discovered that two of my children get stomach aches when they drink milk. One of my daughters has excema on her arms that just has not cleared up. It usually comes and goes, especially in the winter, but she's had it for two months straight. So I've taken all dairy and wheat items out of her diet to see if those common allergens could be a reason for it. I'm still cooking normally for everyone else, but have necessarily been experimenting with this other way of cooking. And here's the latest and greatest:Butter.
Sort of. It tastes like it, anyway. And spreads beautifully. It even cooks like butter. I've creamed it with sugar and made a cake, made brownies, melted it on muffins, spread on toast, made honeybutter, and made dairy-free cream of broccoli soup with it. Yum.
The idea was sparked by reading a label on a small tub of honey butter. Turns out there was no butter in it at all, but tasted as though it did. Reading through the list- hydrogenated soybean oil, honey, citric acid, soy lecithin, artificial colors and flavors- it occurred to me that if THEY could make something taste and spread like butter, then maybe I could, too. So I started researching what the flavor components were in butter and what other foods contain them too. It was fun to read about- ketones, diacetyl, acetoin, reactions between aldehyde and niacin. (But, dang it, how come if I was setting a good example of work, study, and loving to learn, I had to remind my daughter every 20 minutes to get back to her schoolwork?!)
Anyway, I found some foods that naturally have some of the same flavor components as butter, and used one that covered the bases. It's the ingredient that makes ALL the difference in flavor here. Liquid aminos
. Or just use soy sauce, which is about the same thing. If you prefer to avoid soy completely, nutritional yeast flakes will give a similar flavor. The cornstarch, coconut flour, or xantham gum thicken the water so it will better stay mixed with the oils.
This is spreadable when used straight from the fridge. It’s fantastic on toast, muffins, and waffles. It has about the same fat-to-water ratio as dairy butter (80:20). You can cook with it just like real butter, too. It can be creamed with sugar for cakes and cookies. Use it cold from the fridge to do this, and don’t beat it longer than about 45 seconds or it begins to melt a little. This spread can be mixed with an equal amount of honey to make honey butter.
If you’d like a firmer consistency, like sticks of butter,
increase coconut oil to ¾ cup and reduce liquid oil to ¼ cup.
Turmeric and paprika give it a nice color without
affecting the flavor. Turmeric adds bright yellow so a little goes a long way, and paprika lends a warm pinkish orange. Both will deepen after a day. Combine a pinch of each (just under 1/16 tsp) for the best color. If you make this using olive oil, the buttery spread has a greenish hint to it which paprika helps eliminate.Dairy-free Buttery Spread2 Tbsp. water1 tsp. cornstarch OR coconut flour OR 1/4 tsp. xantham gum1/8 tsp. liquid aminos or soy sauce OR scant ½ tsp. nutritional yeast½ tsp. saltA pinch each turmeric and paprika, optional (for color)½ c. coconut oil, softened just til creamy and stirrable½ c. olive oil or other liquid oil like canola
In a glass 1-cup measuring cup, stir together water and coconut flour. Microwave until it boils, stir until smooth. (You’ll need 3 T water if boiling this in a pan on the stove.) Mix in the liquid aminos, salt, turmeric and paprika. Set aside to cool.
After it’s cooled to nearly room temperature, mix in the coconut oil, then whisk in olive oil until smooth. Put mixture in the fridge to chill. Stir after it starts to thicken, about 15-30 minutes.
Store covered in the refrigerator. Makes just over 1 cup.
(9 ½ oz, or 3 T. more than 2 sticks of butter)
If you want a firmer consistency to form “sticks” of butter, after it’s just started thickening in the fridge and you’ve stirred it, pack it into whatever molds you have. I use mini loaf pans, filling them on a scale so each stick weighs 4 ounces. Put in the freezer to solidify. After they’re hard, pop them out of the molds and store in ziptop bags or wrapped in plastic. Label and keep in the freezer for longer storage, or keep in the fridge for shorter-term use.
A few years ago, I opened up the Foods section of my local newspaper and spotted a recipe called "Just-the-Best Cookies". The version there was intended to be a healthier one, having reduced the nuts, coconut, and switching to oil instead of butter. Well, I've reduced the sugar and changed it to use honey, then added back the bigger amount of coconut and nuts, since we know now that healthy fats are, well, healthy! In moderation. And I love the crunch and flavor of coconut and nuts.
We have two breakfast times at my house- one for my highschoolers and husband, who have to be out the door by 6:45, and one for the rest of us, because some of them leave at 8:00 for the elementary school and Jr-High. These cookies make a fantastic, no-work breakfast for that earlier group- I make a batch, put them in a big ziplock bag after cooling, and pop them into the freezer. Then my early group can even grab and go, when needed.
These cookies are high in fiber as well, and lower in sugar than most. Two cookies are about the same nutritionally as one homemade, normal-sized muffin, and much better for you than commercially-made muffins! Two made without raisins contain 16 grams of sugar, which is less than you'd get in a bowl of cereal with milk. Especially if you count the size bowl my teenagers think is a serving. (I keep hiding the bigger bowls...)
Just-the-Best Breakfast Cookies
1/2 c. coconut oil or butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. water
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans or other nuts, optional
1/2 c. chopped raisins, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or spray two cookie sheets. In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil and honey, then mix in egg, vanilla, and water. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Stir in coconut, nuts, and raisins.
Roll into 1 1/2" balls, a little larger than a ping-pong ball. Place on cookie sheet, flatten slightly, and bake for about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack. Makes about 36.
To make breakfast bars instead, spread all the dough onto one well-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for probably 25 minutes. I don't know for sure because the idea popped into my head just now... Cool and cut into whatever size bars you like.
Do you ever use Pedialyte or sports drinks for sick children? Below are some homemade, very inexpensive, and fully functional substitutes.
We've had an impressive virus at our house lately; my 7-year-old ran a fever for an entire week (with an ear infection on top of it), and now the 4-year-old has the fever-causing virus. Younger children get dehydrated so easily, so mine get a water bottle to keep with them at all times while sick- but it's "lemonade" water. It really is lemonade, a little on the weak side and with salt. I add a couple things to their water bottle, and it helps replenish the minerals and salts they lose
while fevering. It tastes better to them than plain water, which helps, too.
I prefer the lemon- if you have fresh it's fantastic-, and lemon seems a little easier on upset tummies than the orange juice. Lemon is also supposed to help alkalinize your body and cleanse the liver, both of which may help you recover faster. The salt really is important*
. If you use unrefined coarse or sea salt, you'll also be adding critical trace minerals. (If you only have refined salt, I understand, it's OK, just not as good for our purposes here.) For the sweetener, I use raw honey because that's what I have in my pantry. Don't use honey if you're making this for a child under 1 year old because of possibility for botulism. Sugar can be substituted, but doesn't have the trace minerals that honey does. If your child likes the flavor of molasses, that's even more
nutritious than honey. My next batch will use blackstrap molasses- the amount of minerals in there are amazing! And, after all, nutrition is the name of the game when someone's sick! This drink can also be frozen to make ice cubs or popsicles.
Note: blackstrap molasses is not very sweet at all, and is somewhat of an acquired taste. If I make some for myself, I tolerate the flavor, but for my children, I use no more than 1 Tbsp. blackstrap and 1 Tbsp. honey. Using regular molasses is much more palatable to children, and even then I recommend using half molasses and half honey.Lemon Electrolytes
16-oz bottle of water
3 Tbsp lemon juice or juice from 1 lemon (grapefruit juice works too)
1/8 tsp. unrefined salt
2 Tbsp. honey and/or molasses
Pour about 1/2 cup of water out of the bottle (you're drinking it, not dumping it, right? :) Add the lemon juice, salt, and honey or molasses. Put the lid on and shake hard.
If you want to mix up a bigger batch to keep in the fridge, use 1 quart of water, 1/2 c. lemon juice, 1/4- 12 tsp. unrefined salt, and 1-6 Tbsp. honey or molasses
. Makes a little more than a quart.Orange Electrolytes
One 16-oz water bottle, half
1/8 tsp. unrefined salt
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp. honey or molasses
about 1 cup orange juice
Add salt and honey/molasses to the bottle, put the lid on and shake hard until mixed well. Fill the bottle up the rest of the way with orange juice.
Bigger batch: 2 c. water, 2 c. orange juice, ¼- ½ tsp. unrefined salt, 1 Tbsp. honey or molasses.
*The recommended salt amount varies from 1/4 per quart to 1 tsp. per quart. Since I'm feeding this to children, I use the lower amount. Recipe sources I looked at include the University of Connecticut Health Center, The Rehydration Project, Southern Utah University, LiveStrong.com
, and http://www.cheekybumsblog.com/2012/04/living-naturally-homemade-electrolyte-drink-move-over-pedialyte/
Nutrition facts:lemon juice
: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1939/2 orange juice
: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5573/2 blackstrap molasses
This is a dairy-free version of sweetened condensed milk,
as the sweetener. For some other ways to make a substitute for sweetened condensed milk, including some with dairy, see here
It doesn't need cooked, which not only makes it super fast to make, but is great if you want to use raw honey and keep the enzymes.
Due to the fiber in this recipe, it won't be as smooth as the store product, but it is still thick, creamy, and sweet
This has one rather obscure ingredient: coconut butter
. That, however, is super easy to make, and will store at room temperature for a long time. Months, at least.
Coconut butter is plain, unsweetened
coconut ('macaroon coconut') that has been pureed in a blender or food processor for several minutes, until it becomes liquid and creamy. It, like coconut oil, will solidify at temperatures under about 75 F, but can be gently heated to liquefy again. If you make your own, use at least 2 cups of coconut to begin with so there's enough in the blender or bowl to puree. This much will give you about 1 cup of coconut butter. If you want other ideas on using this coconut butter, see here
or the Tropical Traditions recipe blog
, where they call it Coconut Cream Concentrate.No-cook Honey-Sweetened Condensed (coconut) Milk
Makes about 14 ounces
2/3 c. honey (7 oz. by weight)
1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. water, warm but not hot
1/2 c. coconut butter (also known as coconut cream concentrate), warmedAdd the warm water and coconut cream to the liquid measuring cup you have the honey in. Whisk together.
Mixture will thicken as it cools to room temperature, but can be used right away.
To thicken faster, cover and put it in the fridge.
This can be used any way that you'd use regular sweetened condensed milk, EXCEPT in the no-bake cheesecakes that call for lemon juice. It won't thicken up properly there, because the condensed (dairy) milk thickens by the lemon juice curdling it. Coconut milk doesn't.
Try it with the Two-Minute Fudge
One tablespoon of this sweetened condensed milk contains 1g of fiber, 1g of protein, 7g fat, and 19g sugars. The regular canned stuff has no fiber, 3g protein, 3g fat, and 22g sugar.
So this recipe is higher in fat, but it's a healthy fat
. It's lower in sugar, plus contains coconut fiber, which has shown an ability
to reduce the glycemic load of foods by slowing glucose release.