A site for sore tastebuds and a woeful wallet

Author Archive

Just Put It Out There

It’s the weekend, you’ve got to go places and get things done.  Wake up a little early and enjoy the peace of morning while you quietly prep this beautiful fruit salad.  100_1851

  • Peel and dice one ripe mango
  • Peel and supreme slice one orange with the juice
  • cut up 6 or 7 strawberries in chunks
  • cut 1 cup red grapes in halves
  • garnish with fresh sprigs of mint

It will be there in its colorful, healthy, fruity, sparkling splendor when everyone gets up. It goes great with home made yogurt if you happen to have some. Now go relax. Breakfast, done!


What! Low Carb Pancakes?

The hubby and I are on a diet because well, we got fat.  I have a sedentary job…admin type; and working in a church, the heavily carb  fat laden pot-lucks are endless.   Hubby is a cop and yes, donuts happen too (worst food ever).

It wasn’t until I went to give blood at a drive that I discovered my blood pressure to be quite high. High enough to be turned away.  The shame was unbearable.

I was agitated with my daughter’s tween angst about something when I left the house and had a huge flight of stairs to climb just before turning left into the blood drive place.  That may have made things worse but still, I had never had a blood pressure problem before.   I decided that day to do something about it.  Not in favor of being advised to go on medication, I turned to diet and exercise

I kept checking on my pressure as I made huge changes in my diet.  A very low carb plan got me results quickly without much sacrifice.  Turns out, fat in the diet is good!  Bread and sugar not so much.  It took a few days to detox the sugar/starch out of my body but once that happened, I lost the cravings for sweets, bread, starchy food like potatoes etc.

I have been able to eat bacon and eggs with butter, steak and many other natural meats, cream, lots of greens, mushrooms, olives, pickles, nuts and seeds and have lost 43 pounds since October. My pressure is currently back to my usual 110/70.

It was a fun affair with cheesecake, chips and chocolate but I wish to last long enough to see my youngest one graduate, marry and have kids.

I did find a way to enjoy a pancake breakfast with zero guilt and when ever I do get a sweet tooth this is what I do:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 packet non-sugar sweetener (Equal works for me)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

Combine the ingredients except the cream in a small bowl and mix until smooth.  A mini processor works great, but a fork and a bit of elbow grease can also get the job done.

Heat a griddle or cast iron pan and coat it with the oil. Pour the batter into the desired sized pancake and  wait for the edges to lose their glossiness, about a minute.  Take a peek with a spatula if you need.  When golden brown give them a flip, shut off the flame and let the griddle’s built-up heat brown the other side.

They don’t respond like traditional pancakes but if your spatula is wide enough they will turn without tearing.

When they are done, plate them up and splash a bit of heavy cream over them.  There is a traditional Mexican cake called “Tres Leches”  that really reminds me of how these pancakes taste…so decadent with only 4 grams of carbs per serving and this makes several 3″ diameter pancakes which could feed two.

Flour based pancakes net a whopping 30 grams of carbs per serving!  My sister diva Eva Gabor  might say, “Goodbye high carb  life, low carb pancakes are here!”  Bah da  ba dum  bum…bum bum!

100_1793


You Won’t Eat this and Think about Cabbage…or Money

Eureka! I have found a recipe that is brimming with health benefits for mere pocket change. Cabbage casserole, how did I never come across such a delicious AND nutritious casserole??  In one of my late night Pinterest “How to Install a Natural Water Feature” moments I made one more click to a recipe off on the sidelines.  I saw a beautiful, colorful, 7 ingredient recipe of pure healthy genius; an I-have-all-the-ingredients-in-the-fridge-and-pantry meal serving up to six.  Click! and my life changed.

I don’t remember the pin. I had to go to bed because the recipes can easily turn me into a wee-hour Pinterest zombie.  This is what I remember and it worked out fine…so fine:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep heavy pot
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 head of large red cabbage sliced in thin strips (you will want to make it again with the other half at the end of the week)
  • 1/2 bunch collard greens (about 5 leaves stemmed and sliced chiffonade style
  • 1 Tsp Steak seasoning plus a couple of pinches
  • 6 oz hand shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 100_1776Preheat oven to 375°. Dice your onion, slice the cabbage and chiffonade the greens and keep them in separate piles. Heat the oil until it shimmers on the bottom of the pot.  Add your onion and cook on high heat until they are clear and beginning to brown. Brown the ground beef with a teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Add the piles of cabbage and greens and simmer until the mixture softens down to about a third its volume.  Give it a good stir.

Empty the pot into  a 9″x 9″ casserole dish and spread it evenly.  Top with your pepper cheese and sprinkle a pinch or two of the steak seasoning around on top sprinkle a little Parmesan to brown the top nicely, then bake for 20 minutes.

It’s fast, it’s delicious, it’s easy, it’s delicious it’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s affordable, it’s delicious!
100_1775


Bean Counter’s Delight

Well here’s a recipe any bean counter could appreciate.  White bean chicken chili will set you back a dollar per person and fill you up with warm wintry goodness.  This dish also packs a protein punch to the tune of 50 plus grams.  Since the whole dish uses 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the total fat per serving adds up to a slim 5 grams per serving!  The taste is just what I crave; so savory, a little smokey and a good amount of heat.  The best part is it is so quick and easy to make.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One large onion diced
  • 2 roasted then peeled poblano peppers also diced
  • leftover roasted chicken (using white meat only, about 3 cups in cubes)
  • 2 cans of great northern beans
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or one clove finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, place the poblano peppers straight over the flame on a gas stove (under the broiler in electric)until it is black and blistered all over.  Place the blackened peppers in a paper bag a few minutes while you saute the diced onions in a large skillet.  When the onions take on a bit of color lower the heat while you rinse off the black skin from the peppers under cold water.  The charred skin should slip right off.  Dice up the peppers nicely and continue cooking them with the onions back on high heat for about 2 more minutes.  Pour one of the cans of beans in before the onions get too brown and mash them as well as you can with a potato masher.  Add the other can, the green chilis and the chicken and stir.   Stir in the spices and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes.  This will be enough for four.  That is it!  You won’t believe the flavor these simple ingredients make together.

This is a great meal to make when you have one of those late evenings at work.  You can pull it all together in less than 30 minutes.  Open up a pack of crackers or sop up the chili with some good bread to really savor every bite of this satisfying meal.

100_1230


Streamlined Yogurt Making

All you need is a microwave oven, a Mason jar and a thermometer that goes to 200°F (93.3C), a quart of whole milk (better if it is antibiotic, hormone and GMO free), and about 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or the same size sample from a batch of previously home made yogurt.  Using the microwave saves you the extra step and clean-up of a pan on the stove. This method is so easy you may never need to purchase the expensive stuff from the store ever again!

Step one: Have your 1/4 cup sample of yogurt ready to “seed” the quart of milk in your pre-sanitized Mason jar (boil half a quart of water in it prior, then cool it by slowly add the milk).  The milk in the mason jar goes into the microwave for approximately 5 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 180° (82.2C).  Stir occasionally to ensure even temperature top to bottom and skim light skin when it appears.

100_1700

Just needs another minute…

Step two: Cool the scalded milk back to a temperature you would be comfortable bathing in; about 110°F (43.3C). Add the culture; about a quarter cup of plain yogurt from an earlier batch, or you could use a sample of store-bought plain Greek yogurt; the more organic the better.  Not all commercial yogurts are created equal but FAGE is a brand highly recommended for taste and quality ingredients if you need to go that route for your culture. About half of a single serving tub is sufficient. Stir it in, mix well and screw on the lid.  As long as you make the next quart of yogurt from your own stock you will never have to purchase yogurt from the store again!  The taste and quality of home made is superior to anything mass produced.

100_1710100_1704

The Cool-down and the Culture

Step three: Set the jar somewhere it won’t be disturbed but will stay warm the whole day; about 10 to 12 hours.  Because it’s summer the temperature outside is perfect for culturing yogurt; about 90°F (32.2C) average.  As long as the temperature stays between 80° and 100° it will be fine. This temperature range is the perfect temperature for the lactic acid producing bacteria to thrive and multiply causing the milk  to thicken but not curdle. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the common strains of bacteria which produce a creamy, thick, gut-health boosting yogurt.  If you start this process at 7:00 a.m., by 7:00 p.m. the bacteria will have done its job. Watch the temperature outside carefully that it stays within the range I mentioned earlier.  In this case the temperature outside was 80°F by 8:00 a.m. when the cooking and cooling was done and that was perfect.  It got to the mid 90°s and by 7:00 p.m. it was 85°;  again, perfect.

100_1716

Set it out in the Hot Summer Breeze

Step four: Now put the jar in the refrigerator overnight and by 5:00 a.m. or so the next day you will have a delicious creamy, tangy, treat to eat for breakfast.  If your end product is too thin you can strain the whole jar of its whey in a strainer with cheesecloth or a large coffee filter until it is the consistency you desire.

Bonus: Don’t throw out the whey!  It can be used in soups, mashed potatoes, smoothies, etc…anything you usually add milk and water to will get a boost of protein and added flavor, plus the probiotic benefit.

The Greek yogurt business is in the 1.7 billion range today.  I really get a kick out of taking away at least one customer.  At the store at nearly $2.00 per serving you get 7 oz of a product in a plastic tub with an aluminum lid glued to it and who knows what else added. Give this pure and simple method a try!  You too will keep that money in your own pockets and be so much more satisfied with the taste, and the knowledge of exactly what you are eating from a sterilized glass jar.  Take charge!  I’m having mine with chunks of home-grown tomatoes. YUMMO!100_1718


Froot Loop Tea

Remember the cereal Froot Loops with the super sniffing toucan mascot flying through the forest sniffing out the flavor of fruit where ever he went?  Well he could very well live in my backyard!  I don’t live in a tropical rain forest, just St. Louis, but what grows wild, and I mean wild back there is lemon balm and mint.  At certain times I have raspberries or blackberries (I’m trying a new thornless blackberry plant this year to make life easy)  grows wild too.  When all three plants are producing, I make my famous Froot Loop Tea.

You won’t believe how much this tea can remind you of the cereal of childhood.  You won’t believe how easy it is to grow and make, and you won’t believe how good this tea is for you. As it is brewing you won’t notice much, but wait until you have a hot cup under your nose. You will be taken back to mornings looking for the prize at the bottom of the cereal box while that fruity smell wafts out at you.

If you grow any herbs, the easier ones are mint and lemon balm. The berries are easy to grow too, and all these plants tend to spread year to year. These could all be grown in the yard or in containers if you don’t have yard space. In my yard, I used to dread how much the herbs spread but now I have learned to appreciate and use them more on a daily basis. It’s good now that these grow so abundantly. I like to grow things that go to good use.

100_1662This Earth Day I don’t want to just be a steward of Earth’s ecology but also one who lives on her abundance…and not just for the one day.  When you get to be my age you want to do things that keep you off the blood pressure meds, the heart pills, the arthritis cures and so on.  I can’t claim this tea will make you able to stop taking these medications but the antioxidants in this tea have proven benefits that help keep you looking young (and divalike), boost mind sharpness and memory,  soothe bronchitis, cleanse the liver, help you sleep and help relieve menstrual cramps. That’s just the lemon balm!

Mint is one of the foods highest in antioxidants, it is an antimicrobial and its oils can be an effective pain reliever.  Antioxidants help fight the aging process warding off free radicals.  The antimicrobial properties help fight germs like the ones that give you bad breath.  Maybe you’ve experienced the soothing effects of mint.  Whether you ate something spicy or have a burning insect sting, mint comes to the cooling rescue.

As far a s raspberries, they pack a healthy punch too.  Rich in antioxidants, manganese and vitamin C, these little gems help fight the free radicals, and
even cancer cells.
100_1659To put together this brew of good health, all you do is muddle together and add the ingredients to the basket of your coffee maker and run a carafe of water through.  Soon you will be enjoying your own cup of nourishing, immune boosting, great smelling, tea. 100_1661100_1665

 


Go with Your Gut

These days there is a much concern about healthy gut bacteria.  It’s great when you can defend yourself  against certain food born bacteria and a good defense is eating fermented food to help balance the good and bad bacteria floating around in you.

Even if it’s not bugs of the holidays, with all the over processed food conveniently available our guts don’t stand a chance taking on a chemical warfare of flavor enhancers, anti caking agents, and colorants as well.  Time to hit the reset button!  We need to turn to the things Grandma and Grandpa used to do; that is to say, get back to the basics in our everyday food preparation.100_1493

There are a lot of products available at the supermarket and the drug store to help bolster that healthy gut bacteria; things like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and probiotic pills.  These things are expensive!  Except for the pills, 100_1506these things can be cultured at home but all one really needs to feed their gut the good stuff is a head of cabbage and some salt.

It is  a week long process to culture these healthy bacteria already living on your head of cabbage: Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus brevis, Pediococcus pentosaceus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bavaricus.  All of this can be had for about forty cents.  You just have to like sour kraut.  Even if you don’t, you might like the fresh stuff because the taste and texture is far superior to anything store bought.

100_1508
First, you’ll need a good knife, a small mouthed quart Mason jar and a standard pickle jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. Next, chop a head of cabbage into thin strips, cutting lengthwise then cutting one half at a time into 1/8th inch shreds.  In a gallon size freezer bag sprinkle two teaspoons non-iodized salt over the shredded cabbage, seal it with as little air as possible and pound it with your fist or a can of soup or a heavy sauce pan..what ever you like to use.  Take out a measure of frustration on this cabbage until you notice it rendering some juice.

100_1515It will take a bit of time to stuff as much cabbage as possible into the mason jar from the bag but do so until you see the level of juice rise.  After releasing your frustration you will have the patience to persevere. Keep stuffing until the juice rises all the way to the top of the cabbage. 100_1518Stuff, stuff, stuff! Take a rest if the juice isn’t there yet.  After a few minutes the salt will help render enough to cover the cabbage.  If it’s not happening after ten minutes or so, a splash of non chlorinated water is all it should take to cover the cabbage.  Almost an entire average head of cabbage will fit in the jar.

Invert the clean pickle jar over the mason jar and you will have created the perfect fermenting vessel.  It will keep out dust and other unwanted air born stuff yet let carbon dioxide gas escape without blowing up on your counter.  That’s it!  All you have to do now is wait about a week, maybe more if you like a mushier product.  You can taste it along the way to check your progress.

100_1523From day two to about day four, if you keep your jar at around 72 °F, you will notice bubbles increasing on the surface each day then diminishing the rest of the week.  Those first four days the fermentation is in high gear.  It continues but the kraut becomes more mellow and a bit softer in the last four days.  You don’t want it to go so far as to get it too mushy or the good bacteria will have languished, thus, the product is less beneficial.

It is important for the cabbage to be covered in liquid and press out all air bubbles.  If air gets to the cabbage it may oxidize and turn brown.  Having a little brown does not mean a total fail.  Just remove the oxidized pieces, place a tight lid on and refrigerate after the 8 days.  It will still be perfectly edible.

Our grandparents and ancestors from all countries did these things to preserve food to survive harsh winters.  Want to be tough like them?  It takes guts!  So take care of yours with your own special recipe for sauerkraut.100_1531