Welcome to Simply Wellness Kitchen
Today I made up a new recipe with some lamb chops from our local Double Gum Tree Farm. They turned out amazing! And with kale, onion, garlic, potatoes and sweet potatoes from our local organic farms courtesy of Sage Roots, this qualifys as simple local healthy eating!
My kind of cooking does not need to be followed exactly. Add in your own ideas or use some of these ideas but for a different recipe... just have some fun! I hope you find it useful. And please... watch and let me know your thoughts.
If you'd like a copy of the recipe, take a look below the video. Enter your name and email and viola!
Happy cooking everyone!
I have to confess, I love winter! If I lived somewhere where it was regularly below zero and I had to deal with shoveling snow all the time then I might rethink that statement. But I live where it’s regularly over 100 degrees in the summer (5 looooong months to be exact!), so anytime the thermostat registers something in the 30s I’m ecstatic! The only bummer about winter has been that I miss my smoothies. I can’t ever quite get myself excited about starting the day, with frost outside, by drinking an ice-cold beverage (I just sent shivers down my spine thinking about it!). But smoothies can be both light, and nutrient and vitamin packed, making it hard to find a good replacement when that’s what we’re craving. Then the other day, I got to thinking why can’t we have hot smoothies in the winter… seriously, this just dawned on me recently. Well, searching the web will let you know that I’m far from the first person to entertain this idea. There is an abundance of ideas out there! Some definite differences between summer and winter smoothies are that the winter counterpart tends to be not as sweet and fruity, and instead have more spice. But I’m sold. If I can get some good energy boosting, cleansing and high fiber goodness in a warm and cozy beverage, I’m all over it.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I also happen to love green tea: plain, in latte form, matcha variety, all of the above. So I thought to myself, how amazing would it be to have a green tea latte smoothie? Turns out, it’s really really amazing.
Green Tea itself is also pretty amazing. Some of my favorite reasons for liking green tea are: (1) It’s high in antioxidants, specifically bioactive compounds that help protect your cells from damage; which offers both anti-aging and disease prevention properties. (2) These same bioactive compounds also mean that green tea can have a protective effect against cancer. (3) It contains quite a lot of the amino acid L-theanine, which has been shown to improve brain function. It also works synergistically with the caffeine in green tea for an even more positive effect. (4) The catechin compounds in green tea have protective effects on our neurons; this means that green tea may have the potential of lowering risk of neurodegenerative diseases. (5) Research also shows that these same catechin compounds inhibit viruses (like the flu!), and kill harmful bacteria (including those in your mouth, providing for improved dental health). (6) There is also research showing correlations between drinking green tea and lowered levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol; increased insulin sensitivity and decreased blood sugar levels; and increased ability to loose weight plus decreased body fat.
All in all, I’d say that’s a pretty good track record!
So let’s talk smoothies!
Now when I create a smoothie recipe, there are a few things that are must haves.
(1) Seeds. Seriously. I don’t know why anyone would create a smoothie without them. They don’t add much flavor (or at least not if you have a flavorful smoothie to begin with). They blend up well (assuming you have a good blender – more on that later) and they add so much nutrition… they can’t be beat! 4 tablespoons in all, every time. I usually use 2 T chia seeds soaked, 1 T hemp seeds and 1 T ground flax seeds. However, if I’m missing one, then I just boost the quantity of the others.
(2) I make very few smoothies that don’t have something green in them. If I’m going leafy green, kale is my favorite. Subtle flavor, blends well, and isn’t as high in oxalic acid as spinach. But more often than not, I just use a green leaf powder. Moringa Leaf is my favorite; also a subtle flavor, not grainy at all, and packed with nutrition. In this case, I'm using matcha green tea powder.
(3) Unless I’ve got a significant protein source somewhere else in the recipe, I always throw in a scoop of protein powder. This is crucial if you want your smoothie to be satisfying enough to get you through until the next meal. Protein is what keeps our blood sugar stable, and gives us longer lasting satiation than if we don’t have enough during a meal.
(4) A good blender can make all the difference. Have you ever had a smoothie that’s not well blended? Grainy, floating bits everywhere, and not only is it not smooth in texture, but the flavor isn’t smooth either. I happen to love my Vitamix, but they are expensive (unless you can find them on supper sale) and not everyone is willing to fork over that much for a blender. I recently found a great review on blenders that covers the all bases… so if you’re in need of an upgrade, take a look: https://www.reviews.com/blender/
Ok, without further ado, here are my two favorite warm matcha green tea smoothie recipes. Take a look, try them out and enjoy! Then pop back on here and tell me what you think. And don’t forget that hat and scarf when you leave the house! It’s cold out there!!
Green Tea Latte Smoothie
Add all ingredients into your blender according to manufacturers instructions & blend until very smooth.
Green Tea Spiced Smoothie
Add all ingredients into your blender according to manufacturers instructions & blend until very smooth.
I personally would love to rid the world of breakfast cereal. It's really one of most atrocious things you can buy and eat... not to mention first thing in the morning! It's really just sugar, sugar, and oh yes, more sugar. Think about it. All cereal is, is refined flours (which by the way break down as sugar in your body) flavored with sweeteners. Even the "healthy" ones. Seriously.
And think about when you eat them! After you've allowed your body to rest from food for (hopefully) about 12 hours. The very first food you're body gets in the morning! And we wonder why we have so many health problems steaming from over consumption? It's really not rocket science.
What to eat instead? Over the next few weeks I will be posting a multitude of alternatives that will all start your day off the right way. To start, here's one option. It's focuses on good vitamins and minerals, and lots of fiber. Believe it or not, give yourself a week of having breakfasts like this and you will no longer crash mid-morning (requiring a sugar snack refill), or need that 3rd cup of coffee.
If you’re like me, you often find yourself wishing you could wave a magic wand and have a delicious and nutritious meal sitting in front of you. Poof! Alas, that’s not how this works. Sure there’s convenience food that you can buy that will satisfy any taste, but really that just ends up being a waste of money and a whole lot of added garbage that you don’t need or want in your body. No thank you!
So what to do on those days when time or inspiration is failing us? My solution has been to cook in bulk and save ingredients or whole dishes for future use (have I mentioned how much I LOVE my chest freezer!). This can be as straightforward as doubling the spaghetti sauce recipe and then freezing half in large jars for future dinners. Or, one of my favorite techniques is to cook more of any variety of ingredients and then make them into something new the next day. What does that mean? Well, for example, I can take leftover roast chicken and chop into a soup, stew or stir-fry. Or cook extra beans for chili one night, tacos the next! I do this regularly with a lot of different foods: veggies, lentils, quinoa, beans, chicken, meat and fish. It may not sound like a lot… but believe me, the time saved while putting together the next meal is noticeable for sure.
One of my favorite meals made with leftover ingredients is my Roasted Chicken and Veggie Salad. This is a salad that could easily be whipped up for lunch but is also hearty and filling enough to be dinner. Even if you’re not a ‘salad person’ you really should give this a try. It’s sooooo much more than just a salad.
And it only takes 5 minutes to make!
Toss all ingredients into a bowl and eat!
Homemade fruity vinaigrette recipe:
Combine all ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Make sure lid is well sealed and shake vigorously to combine. Dressing can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the refrigerator for months.
“Bone broth isn’t just broth. And it isn’t just soup. It’s concentrated healing.”
– Kellyann Petrucci
When we talk about food being the best medicine, bone broth is near (or at) the top of the list. And the beauty is that it’s not hard to make. The key though, is the ingredients you use. But we’ll talk about that later. Right now, let’s talk about the reason we should all be consuming this amazing tonic.
9 Reasons Bone Broth is AMAZING!
1. Helps heal your gut. The gelatin in bone broth (a hydrophilic colloid) helps to seal the lining of your gut by protecting the mucosal lining.
2. Promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. The gelatin also keeps your digestive juices where they’re supposed to be, aiding in the digestion of nutrients.
3. Reduces inflammation. Which for many of us is a major key to health. Bone broth is a natural supplier of glucosamine, which can help stimulate the growth of collagen and reduce joint pain. It is also full of amino acids that have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects (glycine, proline, and arginine).
4. Encourages bone repair and growth. The calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are great for healthy, strong bones.
5. Helps prevent and fight disease. Not just an old wives tale, research has shown that soup indeed has medicinal qualities for fighting infection by reducing the number of white blood cells (which cause flu and cold symptoms).
6. Good for strong hair, nails, and healthy skin. Both the gelatin in bone broth and the broths ability to stimulate your own production of collagen increases the strength and health of our hair and nails, and can reduce wrinkles and increase firmness of skin.
7. Helps you relax and maybe even get a better night sleep. The amino acid glycine has been found to have calming effects, which can help lead to relaxation and better sleep.
8. Better than supplements. Bone broth is cooked at a relatively low heat, which preserves the nutrients in a way that high-heat extraction used for many supplements doesn’t. It is also more comprehensive in it’s makeup of nutrients as it’s made from whole foods, and isn’t just the parts that we’ve deemed as the “healthy” bits.
9. It’s cheaper than buying broth, and very easy to make. As long as you can get your hands on good bones and a crock pot, the set up takes about 15 minutes and then you just leave it be until it’s done (4-48 hours). And it’s a lot less expensive than buying cartons or cans of broth, which don’t have nearly the same health benefit!
So, how do you make this magical potion? If you search online for bone broth recipes, you’ll find oodles of them. But they all have a few key components: Good bones (i.e. from free-range, organically fed animals is best), a few veggies, water (filtered if you have it), and time in a slow-cooker (4-48 hours depending on the type of bone you're using). You can cook bone broth on the stove, but then you have to be home and watching it occasionally which can be a hassle considering how long it cooks. A slow-cooker or crock pot allows you to set it up, and walk away until it’s done. Here’s my go-to recipe:
Chicken bone broth:
Dump everything into your slow cooker except the fresh herbs. Turn on and leave for 6 - 8 hours. Add the fresh herbs in for the last hour. You will likely notice some frothy bubbles at the top of the pot after a few hours. Scrape this up with a large spoon and discard. It’s normal, and totally fine.
When it's done cooking, strain through a colander, and distribute the liquid into quart jars to refrigerate or freeze. If freezing, make sure you leave enough space at the top for the liquid to expand, and freeze with the lid off to avoid the glass breaking. If you have a dog, you can throw the cooked gizzards onto their food for a seriously tasty treat. And I can usually pick off enough meat from the discarded bones to make a chicken soup.
For other types of broth (beef, fish, pork, etc.) I follow the same recipe but you’ll need to increase the time the bigger the bones. Fish bones (using a whole fish is the best) = 4 hours; Pork & Beef bones = 24-48 hours. Large bones should be hollowed out by the time you’re done cooking them.
Don't be shy! If you have questions feel free to leave them in the comments below, or shoot me a note. But I promise you, if you give it a try, you'll be so happy you started this habit of broth making. The broth is delicious! Much better than anything you could buy in a store. And it will likely become a staple in your house like it is in mine!
As a general theme, I don't eat muffins because they make me feel like I've instantly gained 10 lbs. My house isn't 'gluten free' or adverse to grains, but by in large we eat them in moderation at most. Most baked goods I create are made gluten free, and my go to flours are nut and bean based. That said, last weekend I woke up with a craving for muffins and coffee for breakfast. So I embarked on an experiment, actually two, and they were a hit!
Since I believe in starting the day with decent protein, the first set of muffins were "Frittata Muffins". For those of you who don't know, frittata is a sort of crustless quiche (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frittata). My mom happens to make the best frittata I've ever had, but it wouldn't be able to hold up in muffin form, so I started with her recipe and modified from there. The end result? A light fluffy egg muffin with ham and veggies inside. My husband ate 3.
For the second variety I wanted something sweet to counter the savory Frittata Muffin. Still wanting to be healthy for breakfast (I know, so boring), and having an endless supply of peaches from our farm stand, I tried out a peach and pecan muffin. They still need some tweaking: the peach is so juicy that it made the muffin more moist than normal, and the coconut oil I used left them stuck to the muffin papers I (so glad I used paper liners!!!). But the flavor was awesome. So if you want that recipe… well, you'll just have to wait until I try it again.
But if you'd like to try Frittata muffins, here you go! They're especially great to have during the week, when all you have to do is grab a couple muffins and you're set for the morning.
Preheat oven to 350.
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.5 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped ham
1 cup grated parmesan, cheddar, and/or romano cheese, plus more to sprinkle on top
*Note: You can really use any cheese, veggie or meat you like, or just cheese & veggie (about 3 to 3.5 cups total). I've used spinach, kale, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, green onions, and carrots. Anything I can chop very finely or grate so that the pieces are small enough to cook in the muffin. Otherwise, if you want big chunks, you'll need to cook the veggies first.
Kombucha: Do you dare?
I’ve been reading a lot about fermented foods lately and I have to admit, I’m intrigued. They’re packed with natural probiotics and aid in our absorption of the nutrients in our food. My personal opinion is that the short cuts on food production and preparation are playing a large role in the general demise of our health and natural food fermentation is one way of getting back to natural food preparation.
It turns out, that if you look for the right things, there are actually a lot of different fermented foods to choose from (but you have to be careful. Some previously fermented foods are now made in a way that doesn’t include the fermentation due to the risk of bad bacteria being added in). I happen to love yogurt and my family uses it almost daily (especially in the hot summer months for yogurt/berry smoothies), but as with most things, in my opinion, variety is the spice of life. Well, unless I wanted to up my intake of wine, beer or authentic sourdough bread, I was pretty much stuck with yogurt for my regular intake.
Enter Kombucha. I heard a lot during it’s rise in popularity a few years back but was always turned off by the price and didn’t have the time to try it on my own. But then, a good friend of mine said that she had just gotten a starter kit, but decided to not keep it going. Would I like it? Uh… yes please! Now to be honest, there’s not a lot of research out there on Kombucha. The general consensus is that as long as it made correctly it’s not harmful, but the health benefits are yet unknown (assuming of course there are some). My interest and reason for going ahead with this project are more spurred on by my general belief in raw/fermented foods (i.e. apple cider vinegar, natural yeast), and my love of making things myself.
So I’ve embarked on my first journey of making Kombucha. I bottled my first batch a few weeks ago (Yum!) and have my second brewing (this time starting with ginger peach black tea to try a new flavor). I also started my “Scoby Hotel” with the extra Scobys that form each time you make a batch. It is amazingly easy to do and you can find wealth of information online (see below). My favorite resource is actually the journal article written up for the FDA (top link under ‘how to make Kombucha’ below).
A few words of caution: It’s tempting to want to refrigerate your unused Scobys, but in all I’ve read it’s actually a good way to weaken your Scoby and risk unwanted bacteria from entering the mixture. A healthy (warm) Scoby will be a good mix of bacteria and yeast and will fight off unwanted bacteria much better than a Scoby weakened by colder temperatures. Also, make sure you’re disinfecting everything you use when making it (by boiling utensils and containers, NOT using actual chemical disinfectant), just like you would when canning, or making jams, etc. If you start with a sterile environment, you’ll be much better off. And in making Kombucha, the most important thing to monitor is pH levels (tea starts at 5 and over the fermentation time should drop to somewhere between 2.5 & 4.2. If it drops too much or too little then you have problems). Finding a way to test at home is a good idea. If you have the correct pH levels, then you’re going to be pretty safe. Of course, you can always go out to the store and buy some… just be prepared for sticker shock (and make sure you look for raw varieties – pasteurization is just a fancy word for making something sterile, thereby getting rid of all that potentially beneficial bacteria).
Next up in the vast world of fermentation… learning to bake using sourdough starter instead of active dry yeast (I’m learning this might make a huge difference in digestion), and finding local raw milk to start making my own yogurt. Wish me luck!
Kombucha/Fermented Food resources:
How to make Kombucha:
For a Scoby Hotel: