Raw Mocha (with Dairy free option)

22 Sep

Once upon a time, I worked in a coffee shop.  This was not one of those big named, rigidly structured, seen on every corner shops.  This was a smallish mom and pop shop a little too far up the street from the university I was attending.  In this little shop, I was first introduced to something called Toddy, or cold pressed coffee.  Once I understood it, I was also given lots and lots of freedom to randomly create new and exciting drinks.

Ah, those were the days.

Today, I realize that coffee is not the best thing I could be doing for myself, but doggone it, sometimes I just want one.

There are some out there who have found ways of making their morning cup not only energizing (the right way), but also entertaining.  Check out bulletproof here.

Yeah, I’ve tried that.  Too much work.

And so we return to the cold pressed coffee.

I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel so guess what!  That’s right!  I am sending you away again!  Just don’t forget to come back once you have figured out how to make it!  Learn more about all the benefits about it here.

Just for information, I use this to make mine.

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Some coffee shops carry them, or you can just buy it here.

I have to say, the quality of the coffee you use is actually pretty important.  Get the best, least toxic, single origin, shade grown stuff that you can find.  It is worth every drop.

Now once you have your cold coffee concentrate, you can make a great iced mocha, blended or on ice.  (I prefer mine over ice because the flavors are stronger.)

Raw Mocha (With or without Dairy)

1 cup coffee concentrate

1 tbsp good quality raw cacao powder (I get mine from Azure Standard.)

1 tsp. raw coconut nectar or more if needed for sweetness (available at health food stores or Azure.)

Throw those together into the blender and blend until foamy.

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If you are having it over ice, fill a 24 oz* cup about 2/3 full of ice.  If you want it blended, take the ice that you measured out and toss it into the blender with your frothy coffee.  Blend until nice and crunchy.  *If you only have smaller cups, just make it in a large bowl and serve yourself a couple cups with a ladle.

Pour into the cup and add:

*2-3 tbsp raw cream

Fill the cup the rest of the way with raw milk. (About 1/3 to 1/2 cup)

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I know, my cups are a mess.  But they are well used BPA free cups with lids.  Essential for this momma of four!

*Dairy free option:

Fill the cup the rest of the way up with coconut milk or cream.

Stir and enjoy!

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Apple Chicken Salad (Paleo)

10 Sep

Not too long ago, I posted a super quick mayo recipe.  This recipe changed my life!  It has made so many other recipes simple and easy to make with real ingredients.

For example, this chicken salad recipe I am about to share.  The mayo takes about 3 minutes, and once the chicken is cooked, the rest of this thing just takes about 10 minutes total.  Such an easy protein to have in the fridge for snacks or for a quick meal.

Now, I always buy pasture raised chicken, since I can’t bring myself to eat any of the girls we have in the backyard.  Here are some good reasons to consider that for yourself as well.  And here.  Oh, and a little about eggs here.

ANYway, enough preaching, (Can I get an AMEN?!).  Time for sharing.

Apple Chicken Salad

1 whole chicken

1 apple, any crisp variety

1 red onion

3 or 4 stalks of celery

1 mayo recipe

sea salt and pepper to taste

1.  Start off with a fairly bland cooked chicken.  You can roast or fry or whatever.  I usually boil a whole chicken til it starts to fall apart, take it out of the water, strip it of all the meat and throw the bones and skin back in the water to make broth.  This gives you a perfectly shredded chicken and gives you lots of yummy flavor for the bone broth.  Chop it up and throw it into a big bowl.

I always start with a bowl that is too small and end up having to clean two.  Sigh.

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2.  Next, make your mayo.  (Click here for the recipe.)

3.  Cut up the apple, onion and celery into a dice.

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Throw those into the bowl too.

4.  Add the entire mayo recipe, some sea salt and pepper, then mix it all up.  It should be fairly moist.  Taste.  Does it need more salt?  Probably.  Add some more.  Taste again.  Should be perfect by now!

 

Did I mention that this is great to have in the fridge for a hurried snack or lunches for the kids?  Yeah, cuz it is.

This week, we had it wrapped in lettuce cups.  Mmmm, my favorite!

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Easiest Mayo Ever

2 Sep

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Since learning about how awful the new (as in the last 50 years or so) veggie oils are for our poor overtaxed bodies, mayo from the store has been a rare and fleeting treat.  I have made my own with different old school oils but the process with the food processor is tedious at best and positively time restrictive at worst.

Until now!  I have recently been scouring the good food blogs for ideas for the meal planning that I have taken up.  I found a quick mayo recipe on PaleOMG that seemed plausible.  So I tried a basic version of her recipe.

It worked!!!!

It literally took 3 minutes to make the whole thing!

So then I altered it just a bit to see if it would work with other oils.  It did!!!

Now, I am only sharing it here because hers is attached to other recipes so I can never find it.  But I also wanted a less expensive version, since she swears by avocado oil.  Trust me, it is VERY pricey if you buy the good stuff.   This is also just a basic recipe that can then be altered a bazillion ways.  Seriously, go look at her blog for some really cool additions.

All you need is an immersion blender, a wide mouth quart sized jar, and a few ingredients.

Easiest Mayo Ever

1/3 cup warm coconut oil (I like the refined stuff for this, less coconut flavor.  Also, coconut oil is liquid once it hits 76 degrees so it shouldn’t have to be very warm)

1/3 cup olive oil (you could also use any other old world oil here as long as it is expeller pressed and organic) *

1 pastured egg

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp any organic mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

pinch ground pepper

Directions:

Put all that into the mason jar.  Put the immersion blender to the bottom and blend.  Within about 30 seconds you should see the texture and color change.  It should look like a yellower version of mayo.  Mix til all the oil is emulsified, (blended in), and serve or refrigerate.

This only makes about 1 cup so it is the perfect amount for one recipe or a week’s worth of sandwiches.

*You can use more coconut oil if you want less olive oil flavor.  You want to make sure you have 2/3 cup oil total.

I may have to make this every week now.  I already made it 3 times just today.

Raw Yogurt the Lazy way

31 Aug

Well, I know that some of you were looking forward to the beyond mouth watering donuts that I posted on Facebook this morning.  I even started writing the post.

Here, I’ll just share the picture.

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I know, right?!

But, as I was writing some of the nuances of the recipe, I decided that I needed to tweek it some.  It has too many changes that could be made before it is perfect.

So, my family will get donuts a couple more times this week so I can share with you.  And today, I’ll tell you the cheater way to make Raw yogurt.

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There are lots of really amazing bloggers who have gone to the trouble of figuring out the right yogurt cultures to buy and cultivate to make the creamiest and thickest yogurt.  There are some who have even shown us how to use a yogurt maker or a crockpot.

I am not one of them.

Let me tell you a little secret about me.  I have done all that too.  But guess what, I can’t keep a starter alive for more than about 3 weeks.  Believe me, I have tried.  I have had some pretty amazing starters.  Some that have traveled across the world!

And yet, they all die in my kitchen.

It is the only thing that doesn’t get enough food in my house!

So, while you, dear reader, might be much better at growing bacteria than I, if you are here, it means you would like an easier way.  THAT, I can do.

Now, you might be wondering why we should even eat raw milk yogurt.  (I am assuming that you already know all the amazing benefits of raw milk and have assessed the risks.)   That is a good question.  Yogurt is often recommended for its cultures.  It is a probiotic in that it has active bacteria strains that have been shown in studies to provide health benefits in those who can tolerate it.  Did you know that we are mostly made up of bacteria?  Yeah, it is true.  We actually need to continuously feed our bacteria more bacteria to keep our bacterial bodies happy.  It’s like a microbial party going on all the time!

So, if yogurt has all those benefits, why should we bother with raw?

Well, at least in my family, a couple of my people are lactose intolerant.  My son is also allergic to pasteurized dairy.  And to be honest, after going raw, I don’t do so well with pasteurized dairy either.  Making this yogurt at home means that we can all partake equally.  This saves me from buying different types of yogurt for each intolerance or allergy.   Saving money and time?  Um, yes thank you!

There are actually all kinds of other reasons, not the least of which is the amount of time that most companies allow (or don’t allow) their products to culture.

So here we go.

This takes all of 10 minutes of active time.  If that.

Start with a high quality organic (preferably grass fed) WHOLE MILK PLAIN store bought yogurt.  I use Straus, although I have used Nancy’s and Trader Joe’s brand and Clover.  My favorite is Straus.  It gives me the best texture most consistently.  This is your starter.  It has all the active cultures present and it doesn’t have to be kept alive.  *Ahem*

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One quart sized container of yogurt will make 7 quarts of raw yogurt.  You don’t have to make it all at once, though I do.  It keeps for about 3-4 weeks in the back of the fridge so you can make a quart at a time, do the whole shebang like I do, or find your balance somewhere in between.  For us, it is an easy lunch and smoothie filler that the kids love so 7 quarts really only last us about 2 weeks.

The rule of thumb here is 1 rounded TBSP per CUP of raw milk.  That comes out to just over 1/4 cup of yogurt to 1 quart of raw milk.

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I just put it into the quart sized mason jar by the tablespoon and then add the raw milk to the top.  It is not an exact science.  Don’t stress it.

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If you happen to have any extra raw cream hanging around, a sneaky trick is to add extra cream before you add the milk.  This makes it…yep, you guessed it, more CREAMY!  If I have some I will usually add about 2-3 tbsp of cream per jar.  If I have a ton, (hardly ever), then I will add up to 1/2 cup more per jar.  Those are the best yogurts ever.

Once they are full of milk, you just mix them with a spoon.  I recommend wooden spoons just because of the rare possibility that stirring with a metal spoon in a glass jar can break the glass.

Um…yes.  It HAS happened to me.   Thanks for the reminder.  Sigh.

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Top it with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and the jar ring.  Or if you can’t find the rings just use a rubber band around the top.  Works just as well.

These can be left on the counter, put in a warmish cupboard, or even put in your dehydrator set at 85 degrees.  Some people have put them in the oven, with just the light on to give it warmth.  The goal is to keep it kinda warm or it will take longer to culture.  On a hot summer day, this will be ready in 12-18 hours.  During the colder months it can take anywhere from 24-72 hours to completely culture.

How to know it is done:

None of my pictures would show it well enough so I will describe it carefully.

It is done when you look at the sides of the jar and can see teeny tiny little bubbles in the yogurt.  I mean tiny.  These are not big air bubbles.  Just a small indicator that the stuff is not so liquidy anymore.  Also, if you tilt the jar, the yogurt will come away from the inner side of the jar in a thicker texture, usually leaving the jar without a film.

If you let it go too long and the whey begins to separate, you have a couple of choices.

You can mix it back in.  Usually that works fine.

OR you can use a cheesecloth, at least a few layers thick, pour the yogurt into the cloth, tie it closed and hang it over a bowl overnight.  You will then have a very thick yogurt, or a nice creamy cream cheese.  Plus, you have a cultured whey which can then be used for feeding chickens, preserving fermented foods, adding to salsa to extend the life, or just using in smoothies.

The finished product is usually the consistency of the starter yogurt.  Sometimes it is thicker, sometimes more runny.

My kidlets eat this stuff just about everyday with some frozen berries or fresh fruit and a tiny bit of maple syrup, (unless I am not looking; then the maple syrup mysteriously evaporates very rapidly).  The frozen stuff is great for the runnier yogurt.  Thickens it right up!

We also use it for baking, smoothies, and once I even made it into frozen yogurt.  That was yummy too!

Let me know how it works for you!

My New Friend

29 Aug

Growing up in a family with 5 siblings, I didn’t get much alone time.  I guess it stuck, because I didn’t really like that much alone time, (until after I became a stay at home mom that is).

Before kids, I didn’t like going to the store alone.  Forget about the movies.

By myself?

Are you crazy?

Who will share the experience with me?!    Who will I laugh with?!  Or cry with?

I found that the same was true for exercise.  I liked running.  I especially liked running when someone would go with me.  In high school, I ran all the time, but that was mostly for basketball.  Then, I was always surrounded by my teammates who were just as miserable as I was.  In college, I found that my best friends were the ones who first were my running partners.  In fact, one of my college running buddies ran with me all the way up until I had my third and fourth kids.  (Twins)

About a year after they were born, I had a back injury, probably due to running.  It was a herniated disc which made running pretty impossible.  I forget sometimes, how bad it was.  But then I read the blog I wrote when I was making the decision for surgery and it reminds me.

I am better now.  Still have some numbness down my leg, even 4 years after surgery.  But it is really minor compared to what it was.  The main issue is that I am not supposed to be running.  Like, ever again.

Sigh.

Oh, and don’t forget, I homeschool and go to school (online).  Try that for making meeting up with friends to go exercise just about impossible!  And classes.  Bleck.  I mean…

I think you get now that I am what is called a buddy exerciser.  This makes it pretty challenging to be motivated to stay active without a buddy.  I mean, the kids are one thing, but they are not a buddy…

Enter my new friend.  (This is seriously not an advertisement.  I am not getting paid for this.  Though, that might not be a bad idea…)

I just got a fitbit a couple weeks ago.  Now, I don’t wear mine at night because I think we need to have at least one place in the house where we can escape the wireless electronics. (Read this link.  Worth further study, I think.) But it is set up so that you can track your sleeping habits as well.

(By the way, here is a really good article about artificial light and bad sleep.  I love Chris Kresser!)

I have to tell you, it has motivated me like a friend!  The goal is to get 10,000 steps per day.  That goal is adjustable, but that is the beginning level.  You can add people as friends on your fitbit profile page, though I have only added one so far.  Tonight, I went and did 50 minutes on my elliptical, which I normally hate.  When I was at about 30 minutes, and TIRED, I looked at my fitbit lights, (they light up based on how close you are to your goal) and realized I still had more than 20% left to go.

I swear, it was like hearing it say, “Come on!  You can keep going!  I’m not done yet!”

Um.  You are a sucky mean great friend.  So, okay.  Fine.  I’m going.

Of course, it is not a perfect friend.  It didn’t count half of my elliptical steps…um, thanks for nothing…?

But to its credit, it totally counted all my steps when I was making 6 meals on Sunday!  I did more than 3 miles in my kitchen!

So, I am taking the good with the bad.  And getting to know my friend better, as it makes me walk.  A lot.  All day.  Everyday.  With the kids.  And without the kids…

I think I need to name her.

Nutty pesto

28 Aug

Who doesn’t like a good pesto?

Well, okay, I didn’t.  I am not sure if it was the overpowering basil and garlic flavor that I didn’t like, or if it was just that I had never had FRESHLY made pesto.  Lemme tell you, freshness makes a world of difference!

Not too long ago, I was watching Lidia of Italy on the Create channel.  Yes, that is what I watch for fun.  Did I mention that I don’t have cable?  Makes for some interesting tv viewing choices, lemme tell you. But at least my kids only know the shows that are on PBS.  ANYWAY, she mentioned that pesto could be made with any nut.

Wait.  What?  Any?

Well, I have to tell you, that got me off the couch and into the kitchen almost immediately.  The possibilities are suddenly endless!  And did I mention easy?  Seriously.  This takes all of about 5 minutes to make.

So here we go:

Nutty Pesto

1-1 1/2 cups any nut (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pinenuts, cashews, etc)

3 or 4 cloves fresh garlic

2 cups basil

1 cup parsley or spinach

1/4 cup olive oil, or up to 1/2 cup (I use Chaffin Family Orchard brand)

1 tsp sea salt (or more or less to taste)

For this recipe I used raw organic pecans.  Start by grinding them up in the food processor until they are a course ground.

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Pull the skins off of the garlic.  Easy way to do this is to lay it on the chop board, lay the flat of a large knife on top and then slam it down with your hand.

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Then dump that into the food processor.

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Add the salt, basil and the parsley. (This is where the spinach should go in if it is in season.) I used these fresh from the garden.

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Start to grind and add the olive oil as it grinds up.

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When it is a nice texture, maybe 2 or 3 minutes later.  Take it out and taste it.

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Yum!  Serve over chicken, or mix into cooked rice noodles with some Parmesan cheese.  Super easy meal, in almost no time.  Kid tested.

Whole chicken to Dinner

27 Aug

 One of the ways we save money is to buy our pastured chickens whole.  That means that if we want to make a dish requiring cuts of chicken, I have to cut it myself.  Fortunately, I found a way, after watching multiple youtube videos, to cut it almost effortlessly.  Remember, this is the Lazy Chef way, which means there are not going to be gorgeous presentations at a gourmet dinner.  This is family cooking at it’s best. 

So, what better way to share my chicken cutting technique than on youtube!   This video was made a couple years ago for a friend.  I actually had her hunt it down for me from her archives so I could youtube it and share with all of you!  So thanks, Tracey! 

Just as a word of caution, this is a chicken.  And I am cutting it up.  So if you are squeamish about meat or the reality of food, you should not watch.  Seriously.  

Tomorrow, I will be sharing my pesto recipe.  This is a great way to cover the chicken we just cut…stay tuned!