You need to make these.

squash squaresAwesome.  These are just lovely, delicious treats that get squash into your family in a new way.  Inspired by my friend Jenna’s recipe over at Whole-istic Living, these little squares unexpectedly made my day.

I had leftover baked squash in the fridge and a whole bunch of nuts.  I scoured my recipe books, and didn’t find anything good.  Without internet access for the morning (what horror!) I was unable to look up a recipe online, yet I remembered Jenna’s so I tried to recreate it from memory.  Here’s what I ended up with and loved.

They’re sweet, but not too much.  They don’t pretend to be a brownie or kitchen sink bar.  They are what they are: maple-syrup sweetened buttery squash sitting nicely on a rich pecan crust and topped with crispy flaked coconut.  Rich and delicious as a stand alone healthy snack full of a balance of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, protein, and trace vitamins and minerals.

These were a hit in my house.  My kids don’t usually eat squash or nuts, yet my 4 year old loved the top, and my 2 year old loved the nut crust.  Together it makes a great after-school snack, and they’re also firm enough to withstand lunch-box travel.

Perhaps the best part of this is that it uses only 1 piece of kitchen equipment!  Hurrah for easy cleanup!

Enjoy!

Crust

2 cups pecans

1 pastured egg

1 tbsp organic butter

pinch of salt

Squash Filling

4 cups cooked/skinned butter nut squash

2 pastured eggs

1/2 cup of real maple syrup (you can substitute raw honey if you prefer)

4 tbsp pasture butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch of cloves

pinch of salt

For the crust:  Put nuts in a food processor and grind until smooth.  Add in the egg & salt and grind some more.   With your clean fingers, spread the butter around an 9 x13 pyrex baking dish until it’s well covered.   Then spread the pecan mixture out evenly over the butter.

For the filling: Put all of the squash into your food processor.  I didn’t bother to clean mine after the pecans, as I figured a few stray pecan bits in the filling would be just fine.  Once the squash is pureed, add in the eggs, syrup, salt, cinnamon & cloves.  Mix until blended.   Spread evenly over the top of the pecan crust, and sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes over the whole thing.  Bake at 3:50 for an hour.  Baking this low and slow will allow the squash to firm-up without burning the crust or coconut.

Let cool and slice into bars.  These keep very well in the fridge.

Want more recipes and ideas on how to get healthy foods into your life?  Check out the great deal I’m offering only through Friday!

 

 

 

 

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Liver Meatball Success!

IMG_1244There is nothing genius or original about this idea: take a food that many (er, most?) people think is unsavory yet believe it is very good for them, and try to hide it in a more popular food item.  Liver is tops on many people’s lists.

The best source of B complex vitamins, iron, folate, copper, and other trace minerals, liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  Although hugely important for pregnant or nursing mothers, everyone can benefit by working some organ meats into their cooking routine.

In my house, the days are mostly gone when my kids would gobble up liver and onions.  And while they’ll still eat sauteed heart (oh yes, I’m serious), I must hide liver in a variety of things.  Check out my post for liver-dip, which is popular in the warmer months.

This time, it was meatballs.  While I’ve done this many times in the past, never had I gotten the ratio so exactly right so that the liver was truly hidden, though present enough to enhance nutrition.   I served the meatballs at my daughter’s 2 year birthday party, to about 20 unsuspecting family members and friends.  And you know what? I got compliment after compliment on how good the meatballs were!  All of the kids ate meatball subs with cheese and got little nutrition boosts into their systems, along with the adults.  I looked on from the sidelines with my little secret.  Only at the end of the party did we tell some of the guests.  I guess the rest will find out soon enough now!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe that worked for me.  Be aware that I was making a large batch for a party, so you may want to reduce the amounts to meet your needs.

  • 4 lbs ground grass-fed beef
  • 1/3 lb liver
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsely
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Step one:  Puree raw liver in food processor.  This is very important!  If there are chunks, it can be hard to mix well into the meatballs

Step two: Puree onion and garlic in food processor

Step three:  Mix the ground beef, liver and onion/garlic together with your hand.  Yes, your clean hand.  No kitchen tool that I’ve met can be as thorough and efficient at mixing meatballs or meatloaf as humans first tool.  This is the way my grandmother did it, and her meatballs were outstanding also.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Step four:  Form into balls and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Then, put into a pot of homemade sauce to finish cooking and incorporate the flavor of the sauce.

Enjoy!

Almond Mango Lassi

This year we celebrated new years day by doing something rare: going out to eat.  The combination of kids and low-quality food in many restaurants is enough to thwart our attempts most often, but this time we wanted some authentic ethnic food and to just escape the house for a bit before a giant snow storm came and kept us house-bound for two days.  So, out we went and Indian food was on the menu.

Our 4 year old son is all about interesting foods and trying new things, as long as it’s meat of some sort.  Our little girl, on the other hand, always says “no thank you” first, and will maybe try a few bites by the time the meal is over, rarely straying from her standby foods of eggs and bone-broth soups.  While we did get a few bites of chicken tika and korma into her, what she drank down with gusto was the mango lassi.  A whole glass, and then some of the second one we ordered.  She gulped, loudly and with genuine pleasure.  And of course, she now asks for it at home.  Since whatever she likes to eat or drink I like to provide if at all possible, I went to work.

The catch is that she has a cold this week, so I’m trying to reduce her dairy consumption as it can increase mucus when the immune system is compromised.   I never use or recommend store-bought milk substitutes, as these always have harmful thickeners and added sugar.  So after some playing around in the kitchen, here’s what I came up with:

  • 1.5 cups of almonds, previously soaked & dried is best but is not necessary
  • 3 cups of water, use more or less depending on your desired thickness
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup, or more/less depending on your desired sweetness
  • 1 cup of frozen mango, though I’m sure fresh would work also
  • pinch of salt, if desired

Put the almonds, water and maple syrup into a powerful blender or food processor.  Blend until the nuts are pulverized and the liquid is white and milky, 2-5 minutes depending on your machine.   Then, strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl.  Next, add the milk from the bowl back into the blender with the mango and puree until smooth.

The consistency will be thick, so if you want it thinner add in more water.  Enjoy!!

Favorite post of 2013!

The winner is:  “She should sell this stuff…”

Everyone loved the granola post, so here it is again to ring in the new year   Wouldn’t you know it, but I happen to have some in the oven now as we speak!

https://holisticnutritionbasics.com/tag/granola/

Here’s to a new year full of joy, happiness and HEALTH.  Happy New Year everyone!

Ahh-chooo!

Crisp air, crunching leaves, and below-freezing in the blue-hued morning.  Squirrels eat saggy pumpkins forgotten on front porches.  Halloween has sprinted by with it’s sugary sweets, making immune systems all the more vulnerable.  This is fall in New England.

For my family this year, it meant colds all around.   We’d just returned from a  warm-climate vacation, and our defenses were down.  Although frequent & recurring colds are rare when living a nourishing lifestyle, even the most nourished person can get the occasional cold.  Whatever the reason, our noses were running here in Boston last week.

True to form, our medicine came from the fridge.  Whenever anyone in my household gets sick, I mix up this concoction and they drink it down several times a day.  The cold is kicked within two days.  I sweeten it up a bit more for the kids, but we all manage to drink some “tea” and kick our colds outside!

Whats so beneficial about this drink?

Garlic & ginger are antioxidant power houses, sea salt has antibiotic and anti-viral properties along with trace elements & minerals to help maintain hydration.

Lemons have antibacterial & antiviral properties, and coming in last is honey with antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant.  Not so bad for a few items you have hanging around the fridge, eh?

Here’s the recipe for this Cold Remedy Tea:

  • 1 coffee-mug full of water
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1, 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & cut in chunks
  • honey to taste
  • salt
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: a small splash of hot sauce, just for fun

Put water, garlic and ginger on the stove to simmer.  Leave for around 10+ minutes at a simmer.  Pour into coffee mug through a strainer. Add salt, lemon, honey to taste.  Drink hot.

Enjoy, and let these natural powerhouses kick your cold outside into the cold!

Garden lunch

I love New England in the fall!  I love New England in the fall!

Fried eggplantAlong with the crisp air, turning leaves & hot apple cider, much of the loveliness is the gardens.  Mine has been painfully neglected this year, yet due to soil that a DC friend referred to as “black gold,” our garden keeps on giving.  Tomato plants sprouted up from compost after my zucchini died in a summer heat wave.  My basil just gives and gives and gives.  And my eggplants- oh, my beautiful eggplants!  They showed little sign of growth this summer, but in mid-August we noticed some buds, which eventually became large, gorgeous fruits and lots of them.   My roots being what they are, there was only one thing to do with the beauty that my son picked today after school:  fried eggplant.  He also grabbed a tomato, a pepper, and some basil; we’re clearly trying to train him right.

“But I thought frying is bad”, you might be thinking.   But like so many, many things in life- it depends.   Fried food in restaurants are most often fried in vegetable oil, which is rancid and usually very old.  Vegetable oil is also linked to a wide range of diseases.    I’ve known some places to fry in olive oil, but that just gets you a big vat of carcinogens since olive oil is very unstable and oxidizes at high heats.

 
So, what did I fry my eggplant in?  Lard.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Lard from happy pigs that lived on a real, sustainable farm in Vermont.  Animal fats from healthy animals (not CAFO animals) is an excellent source of essential vitamins & minerals, including much sought-after Vitamin D.  Lard is also an extremely stable fat that does well with frying.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 beautiful eggplant
  • a bowl with flour, salt, pepper & parsley to taste.  I used this sprouted flour.  You can also add grated cheese to the flour mixture.
  • 1 bowl with two eggs, beaten.  Add salt & pepper to taste
  • a tablespoon of lard before every batch goes into the pan
  • cast-iron saute pan

Slice the eggplant.  Then take a slice and cover both sides in flour mixture.  Next, dip into the egg so that the whole slice is covered.  Put the slice into a hot saute pan with lard and fry on each side until done, roughly 5 minutes each side.  Repeat with every slice.  Do keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn.  Remove from pan and put onto paper towel to drain.  Serve with basil, tomato, fried peppers, mozzarella cheese, or even put on a sandwich.  To turn this into eggplant parmigiana, simply add a tomato sauce & mozzarella cheese.

Real food from my real garden. Yum.

 

She should sell this stuff

Cereal: one of the hardest things to give up when making the change to a real food way of life.  I won’t get into it now, but lets just say that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize many of the “breakfast cereals” on shelves nowadays as food, many of which really look more like toys than food.  You know who you arIMG_0764e, Lucky Charms!

My family is now used to an eggs-for-breakfast way of life, with the occasional soaked-flour-pancake-morning mixed in, and we all are happy.  Yet when we go to grandparents houses or visit other friends/family, my kids gobble down bowls of cheerios like they had never before eaten.  How is it possible, when they’ve had only a handful of interactions with such things that they’re so enchanted?  Maybe its the cold milk combined with the crunch & slurp.  Maybe its the sugar.  Whatever it is, they gobble while I turn my head and mentally vow to get some liver in them when we get home.

Then along comes my friend Liz, who casually mentions her soaked granola when we were over for dinner.  After one taste, yum!   When I tried it at home, there were 8 hands nibbling from the trays as they cooled.  This will be what saves us on sleepy mornings during the school week.  Since she’s not selling this, I bring to you Liz’s soaked granola recipe:

Note: in typical fashion, I didn’t have the right seeds/nuts on hand, so I subbed in cashews for almonds, and simply omitted the pumpkin & walnuts.  It still worked great!  My kids love to put raisins on top too- anything with toppings pleases the little ones.

Liz’s Soaked Granola

Soak 6 cups organic rolled oats in water (just enough to barely cover) and six tablespoons yogurt or whey overnight. Soak one cup sliced almonds in water with one tablespoon yogurt or whey.

The next morning, dry oats and almonds at 200.  It takes roughly 4 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

When oats and almonds are dry, add in:
1 c. Sprouted sunflower seeds (if you don’t have sprouted, soak overnight in the same manner as the almonds)
1 c. Sprouted pumpkin seeds  (same as above, if you don’t have sprouted)
1 c. Shredded coconut
1 c. Pecans or walnuts, crushed

Mix dry ingredients.

Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

3 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 c. Olive oil (can use just coconut oil if preferred).
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp salt only if nuts are unsalted, otherwise omit.
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix wet & dry ingredients together, then bake on baking sheets at 300 for 20-30 minutes.  I baked at 325 and it worked, but browned quick so you’ll need to be ready to take it out at 15-20 minutes or less- keep a close eye on it.  Mix every 10 minutes.  When out of the oven, mix in 4 tbsp of ground flax seeds.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon-Plum Ice Cream!

I’m in a “use what you have” phase of life right now, which extends very nicely into the kitchen.  In lieu of finding a recipe and then going out and getting specific ingredients, we instead see what we have and what we could make with it.

When my kids wanted a treat and we all wanted something beyond vanilla, we looked no further than the fridge where a few plums had been forgotten, and I almost always have raw milk & cream on hand.  The taste of plums alone can be quite mild, so we added in some cinnamon for a spicy treat that has a host of health benefits.

Here’s how we did it:

3 plums, diced
1 cup of cream (you can add in up to 1 cup more for even richer ice cream, as desired)
1 cup of raw milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raw honey, the more mild the better
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
a splash of water

Place the plums and water in a small sauce pan, and simmer.  Leave on heat until plums are soft.  If all the water cooks off, add a bit more to cover the bottom and prevent burning but be careful not to add too much- it will wash out the plum flavor and make the ice cream too watery.  At the end of the simmering process, add honey after the heat has been turned off.  Mix & set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, or while the plums are simmering, mix all the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl, then place in the refrigerator.

Push the plum & honey mixture through a fine sieve, pushing the contents through with the back of a spoon, spatula or other utensil.  Continue until only the skins are left in the sieve. This may take a while, especially if the plums were not very ripe, but do not skip this step!  The smoothness of the ice cream is well worth the effort.

Add the plum mixture to the ice cream mixture and combine.  Place all ingredients in an ice cream maker until thick.   I like to top with shredded coconut or crispy almonds.  Enjoy!

 

Liver success!

One of the real foods many people struggle with working into their diet is liver.  It’s a nutrient power-house, especially for pregnant or nursing mothers and growing children.  But I find that I’m the hardest one to please in this regard as the rest of my family loves it fried with onions.  I, however, can’t get past the texture and the, well, livery taste.

Last week I did it: I made a recipe that is truly good, not just tolerable.  With the leftovers from a liver-and-onion dinner, I got creative.  Why not get the liver in small doses with a fun dip, rather than trying to choke down a whole steak all at once?

So here it is, a bacon-cheese dip that you can put on sourdough bread or dip veggies.  I’ve found it’s a great go-to lunch when I need something quick.  Bonus- my kids love it!    Enjoy!

2-3 cooked calves-liver steaks
2 packages of organic cream cheese, or even better 2 cups of homemade cream cheese
5+ strips of cooked nitrate/nitrite free bacon
3 gloves of garlic
1/2 red onion
1 green pepper
salt to taste

Food-process, or very finely chop all ingredients separately.  Then pure together until smooth.  Chill and serve!

Another mark against industrial oils

As if the rancidity & toxicity factors in “vegetable” oils weren’t enough, the EPA has recently allowed Monsanto to increase the allowable amount of the Glyphosate Herbicide, a known endocrine disruptor and carcinogen, to its oilseed crops.

http://preventdisease.com/news/13/080113_EPA-Allows-Monsanto-Glyphosate-Herbicide-60-Times-Higher-Toxic-Canola-Soy-Sunflower-Flax-Peanuts.shtml?utm_source=080113&utm_campaign=080113&utm_medium=email

What oils do I suggest?  Coconut oil, lard, butter, and olive oil used cold, all from farmers you trust or with organic certification.   Thats it.  Keep your kitchen simple and like your great-grandmother would enjoy.