Fava Beans

 

 

We ventured into a new vegetable for Easter this year – fava beans! I was uninterested in them for quite awhile, but I finally gave in and was glad I did. Beware! Shelling and removing skins takes quite awhile … and also a large bunch of fava beans ends up shrinking down quite a bit. Everyone enjoyed this recipe! You can leave the yogurt out if you are concerned about dairy.

An easy way to shell your beans – put the fava beans in boiling salted water to blanch for 30 seconds. Remove the beans from the boiling water and submerge them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This step softens the second skin, making it easier to remove.

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds fava beans, shelled and inside skin removed
1 bunch spring onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
water or stock
¼ cup whole milk yogurt

Directions:
1. Finely slice the white parts of the onions and an inch of the greens. Chop the rest of the greens into 1/2–inch pieces, keeping them separate from the bottoms.
2. Warm the oil in an 8-inch skillet. Add the onion bottoms and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the fava beans, two thirds of the parsley and basil, 1 teaspoon sea salt and water or stock to cover. Simmer until the beans are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the green part of the onions and cook until the beans are completely tender, about another 10 minutes or so. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
3. Turn off the heat, stir the yogurt into the hot fava beans, add the remaining parsley and basil. Serve warm.

Yogurt Chicken Salad

 

 

I will admit – I LOVE mayonnaise. Not just any mayo, but the Best Foods straight up bad stuff. I used to adore white sourdough sandwiches layered thick with mayo and salami. Mmmmm … but ever since learning how bad store bought mayo is, I have cut it out of my diet. (note, real mayo made at home or with real ingredients is just fine). The mayo I like from the store is made from soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, etc. All of these come from GMO crops. Your body can’t break down soybean oil well and treats it as a toxin, sending it straight to the liver. Anyways, this is a conversation for another day … I digress.

At the gym, I try to pretend I don’t know about store bought mayo and I often get myself a treat: the chicken salad snack. It’s soooo good. I KNOW it’s made with the addictive Best Foods mayo.  So I decided I have to take matters into my own hands and find a way to recreate this yummy dish without the mayo at home. Right now, I don’t have the time or interest to make my own mayo – although maybe someday I will and I will use the previous link when I do!  So for now,  I wanted to try a quick yogurt alternative. I played around, and this recipe is very similar and quite tasty. Would be excellent to make a huge batch and have it ready to go throughout the week for an easy healthy lunch.

Chopped cooked chicken breast (i used a costco rotisserie chicken)
Chopped red or green onions
Dried cranberries (trader joes and costco both carry brands that do not add sugar to their dried fruit!)
Sliced grapes
Chopped apple
Sliced almonds
Garlic powder or salt
Black pepper
Plain yogurt

Mix and determine amounts as needed. You can see my amounts in the picture. Play around with what suits your taste buds. Enjoy on bread or wrapped in lettuce!

Elderberry and Echinacea Syrup

 

Making your own elderberry and echinacea syrup is so easy! And cheaper too than buying it in the store. You can make this healthy immunity boosting syrup with just elderberries, or you can add the other ingredients. At first sign of illness, we drink bone broth, cut out all sugar, take some echinacea tinctures and drink herbal tea! Add this syrup too and you’ll put your cold dead in it’s tracks. Thanks to OhLardy website for this recipe and info! I buy all my herbs on Mountain Rose Herbs online.

Echinacea fights inflammation, bacterial and viral infections. It is good for the immune and the lymphatic systems. It is helpful for allergies, colds, flu and other infections.

Elderberry fights inflammation and relieves coughs and congestion . It enhances immune system function, lowers fevers and soothes the respiratory tract. It is very effective against flu viruses.

Cinnamon counteracts congestion, warms the body and enhances digestion.

Clove has antiseptic and anti parasitic properties.

Ginger fights inflammation and stimulates circulation and digestion. It is a strong antioxidant and has antimicrobial properties. It is helpful for headache, indigestion and vomiting, among other ailments.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup elderberries
  • 1/4 cup dried echinacea
  • 1 inch or so of ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cup (or less) of raw honey

Method:

  1. Mix all ingredients, except honey, in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes or so.
  3. Strain.
  4. Let cool.
  5. When cool, add honey in to taste.
  6. Then pour into jar.
  7. Keep in refrigerator and use within 2 months.

Picture Step by Step Chicken Soup Tutorial

Here is a step by step picture tutorial on how to make your own nourishing chicken soup.  In our house, we use quinoa instead of noodles, but Chicken Quinoa Soup just doesn’t have the same ring to it ask Chicken Noodle Soup!  So, if you prefer noodles, go ahead and skip the quinoa prep parts, but I do highly recommend you try it with quinoa instead because of the wonderful nutritious value of this super grain.

Do youself a favor when you make this – make it BIG so that you have some to freeze for the future, when you are feeling under the weather, and you need a quick hardy soup on hand.  I always feel infinitely happier when I know there is frozen soup in my freezer!!

And forgive the quality of my pictures.  I’m not going for a food blog award here.  These are iPhone photos taken in my small messy kitchen with poor lighting.  It’s real life folks.  Real life.

And onward to the soup!!

Step 1: Peel and chop half an onion.  Ignore the Safeway receipt.  

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Step 2: Sauté chopped onion with a few pats of butter in a stock pot or dutch oven.

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Step 3: Peel and mince a few cloves of garlic, add to the sautéing onions


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Step 4: Toast 1 cup of quinoa in a saucepan for about 6 minutes. Just quinoa in the pan, nothing else. You will know it’s done toasting when you can smell it. Don’t let it go too long or it will burn. If you need to, put a timer on it!


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Step 5: Chop several stalks of celery

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Step 6: Add chopped carrots. These are extra carrots and green beans that I had over the summer, so I chopped them up and tossed in a freezer bag. Perfect and easy to put in soups when you are short on time! I put them in the soup completely frozen. Freezing pre-chopped veggies is amazing and so helpful.  How did I just learn about it?  Life changing!!


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Step 7: Add herbs. Here I am using fresh parsley. If you have it, great. If you don’t, no worries. Allow veggies to cook until softened.  Also add some salt.


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Step 8: By this time, you should smell your quinoa toasting up nicely. Measure 1 3/4 cups water, preferably boiling hot, but it’s ok if it’s not.

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Step 9: Add the water to your quinoa

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Step 10: Add a tbsp of olive oil to the pot with the water and quinoa. I don’t measure, just a quick pour.

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Step 11: Add a tsp of salt to the quinoa. 

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Step 12:  Bring quinoa to a boil, then down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Step 13:  Revisit your veggies.  Add spices.  These are my favorite cast of characters.  Just a pinch or two of the turmeric will give a nice flavor.  I like to be generous with the garlic salt and other seasonings.  Other yummies to add are dried onion, onion salt, thyme.

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Step 14:  Add your cooked chopped chicken.  Stir to get them covered with the flavors and cook for a minute.  This is where already cooked chicken from the freezer comes in very handy – preferably if you made a roast chicken and shredded the extra meat!  Also another great way to save $, one whole chicken can make several meals if you roast it, then shred it, make broth, and soup.  Our family of 5 can use one 4 lb chicken for 3 meals.  You rock, roast chicken! 

(here it is out of the fridge)

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(then chopped and in the soup!)

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Step 15:  Add your homemade chicken broth until the veggies are completely covered, and then some.  Yes, homemade broth.  It’s where all the nutrients and healing “powers” of the soup come from.  Store bought broth does not have the same nutritional qualities.  But if you are pressed, store bought is OK.  Just promise me next time you’ll do homemade, ok?  

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Step 16:  Bring to a boil.

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Step 17:  Once your quinoa is done, it should look like this.  Add to your soup.  I like to add all of it.  I think it makes a hearty soup and keeps you full longer.  Of course, if you are doing noodles instead, add the cooked noodles now.

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Step 18: Check your flavors.  Taste, adjust, taste taste, adjust more!!  I always end up adding more salt and seasonings.  Just use a clean spoon for every taste.   🙂  And voila!  Your soup is done!  Super healthy, warms up up inside (which helps fight germs, too!), veggies, bone broth gelatinous goodness to keep your immunity up, and all the delights of the complete protein, high calcium, magnesium, and iron of the lovely hardy gain quinoa.  Eat!  Enjoy!  (remember to stir well when serving because the quinoa is heavy and sinks to the bottom).

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Maren’s Dinner in a Squash

 

 

My neighbor and friend Maren gave me this cool idea of cooking dinner in a squash! I peeked in her oven while she was baking it – being the weirdly food obsessed person I am – it smelled so yummy and looked creative! The idea mulled around in the back of my mind for quite awhile …. then I was super lucky to get added to a recipe email thread, where Jessie from Bites asked her cooking friends to reply all with their fav recipes. One of them was stuffed squash – Perfect! I took some from Maren’s recipe and also from the email thread. Then Andrew found this great step by step on how to cook dinner in a squash. The final product was delicious! We used italian pork sausage, apples, bell peppers, onions, kale … super yum. I can’t wait to make it again.

What You Need

Ingredients
1 winter squash, like acorn, kabocha, red kuri, sweet dumpling, delicata, spaghetti or any other grapefruit-sized (or slightly larger) squash
2 to 3 cups of filling

General amounts for filling — to equal 2 to 3 cups total:
1/2 to 1 cup protein — sausage, chicken, pork, tempeh, or baked tofu
1 to 2 cups veggies — onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, greens
1/2 cup cooked grains and/or nuts — barley, quinoa, millet, farro, rice, walnuts, almonds, pecans
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese
1 to 3 teaspoons herbs or spices (we used a pinch of cinnamon, trader joes 21 seasoning salute, garlic salt)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the squash for roasting: Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Slice the squash in half from stem to root and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Transfer the squash to a baking dish: Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the oven.
  3. Roast the squash: Roast the squash until very soft and tender when poked with a fork or paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size and variety of your squash.
  4. Prepare the filling: While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling. Depending on the size of your squash, 2 to 3 cups of combined ingredients is usually sufficient. You can combine leftovers from other meals (cooked chicken, roasted vegetables, etc.) or you can prepare a fresh filling. Cook any raw meats and raw vegetables and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the spices, salt, and pepper to your liking.
  5. Stuff the squash halves: Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves — it’s fine to really stuff the wells and also to mound the filling on top.
  6. Bake the stuffed squash halves until bubbly: Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

 

 

I just discovered this incredibly easy way to prepare a whole chicken! Seriously, no prep AT ALL! Love it. The chicken is tender and great for shredding into tacos, soups, salads, etc.

4 lb Whole Chicken

Salt Chicken

Place in crockpot, add in lemons and garlic if you have it – if not, no problem!

Cook on High for 3 hours. If 5 lb bird, cook 3.5 hrs.

Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before cutting into it. The skin will not be crisp like a roasted chicken, but the meat will be moist and tender!

Don’t forget to use that chicken later for homemade chicken broth!!

Pumpkin Chili

A delicious fall dish – lovely combo of flavors! I was able to do a bit of freezer clean out too! I don’t remember who told me about chopping up extra summer veggies (like the abundance of bell peppers we had this year) and freezing them – but whoever did is a lifesaver! Didn’t need to chop up a single veggie for this dish – all was pre-chopped in my freezer and ready to go. Same with the precooked frozen beans! So so easy and cheap. Love things like that!

Because I made this without going to the grocery store first, I made adjustments as you will see. Originally thought I would be halving the recipe because I didn’t have 2 lbs of meat, but I think in hindsight I could have used the full amount of pumpkin and pumpkin spices and it would have been just fine! However if you are nervous about the idea of the pumpkin flavor, you can keep it in half like I did and it will taste more like a traditional chili.

Thanks to Jessie at Bites for this fun fall dish!

2 pounds ground beef (I used 1.3 lbs)
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced (Used a medley of colored peppers)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained (instead 2 cups black beans, 2 pinto)
1 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice (Didn’t have much of this, subbed in a cup or two of chicken broth, added a small can of v8)
1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz. can canned pumpkin puree (I used half although I wish I had used more)
1 T. pumpkin pie spice (also used half since my pumpkin use was half, but could have done more)
1/4 cup chili powder (taste your chili first before you add in the chili powder, you might prefer more or less)
2 t. cumin (used half)
2 T. white sugar (did not use sugar, instead a small spoonful of honey)

In a large pot over medium heat, cook beef until brown; drain. Stir in onion and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes. Stir in beans, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and pumpkin puree. Season with pumpkin pie spice, chili powder and sugar. Simmer 1 hour.

Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps

 

 

My chef like friend Kassidy passed along this website and recipe and we LOVED it! Plus this was an easy one to throw together and make modifications where needed. I didn’t have mushrooms or broccoli slow, so I did grated carrots and zucchini instead. And we wrapped ours in big cabbage leaves instead of lettuce. Instead of coconut aminos I used organic soy sauce. The flavor was wonderful! I added a bit of brown rice for the kids.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground meat (I used grass fed ground beef)
  • 1 lb of thinly sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of lard
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 cups of broccoli slaw (I use the organic slaw from Trader Joe’s)
  • ½ cup of shredded carrots (I use the ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • a handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut aminos
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Chop in a food processor onions until super fine, sautee in large pan with pat of butter. Cook until translucent. Add mushrroms, cook until softened. Add garlic, cook for 1 more minute.

Add ground beef, mixing and cooking until all chunks are broken and beef is cooked with no more pink. Season with salt and pepper.

Add in equal amounts the soy sauce (coconut aminos), fish sauce, and apple cider vinegar

Add carrots and broccoli slaw. Cook and stir until softened.

Add green onions and cilantro, mix, and serve in lettuce leaves!

Roasted Butternut Squash

 

A simple easy way to eat butternut squash!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in one inch cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat over 400. Toss squash with olive oil and garlic in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet, cook in oven for 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.

 

Apple Parsley Salad Dressing

 

 

Tasty!  This was easy to put together too – perfect on any salad.

Ingredients:
1 medium green apple, seeded and quartered
1 Tbs. agave nectar (optional) – I used 1/2 tbsp honey
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 scallion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. water
½ cup olive oil

Directions:

1. Add all the ingredients, except the olive oil, to a blender and blend until finely chopped and well combined

2. Continue blending and add the oil in a slow stream, scraping as needed to create a smooth emulsion.