Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Teriyaki Bird Food

I have to admit, when snacking off the grid I sometimes feel like I eat a lot of bird food…so sometimes I have to get creative.  Nuts and seeds, when properly prepared are wonderful sources of healthy fats, complementary proteins and a host of micronutrients.

Sunflower seeds provide significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.  These nutrients are known to calm and detoxify the entire body, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and help prevent heart both heart disease and cancer (source).

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are another super seed which are known for promoting prostate health, increasing bone density and reducing inflammation better than pharaceuticals!

“The healing properties of pumpkin seeds have also been recently investigated with respect to arthritis. In animal studies, the addition of pumpkin seeds to the diet has compared favorably with use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in reducing inflammatory symptoms. Importantly, though, pumpkin seeds did not have one extremely unwanted effect of indomethacin: unlike the drug, pumpkin seeds do not increase the level of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in the linings of the joints, a side-effect that actually contributes to the progression of arthritis.” (source)

Birds must be amazing healthy little critters, but I bet they are jealous that they don’t have these tasty seeds!

TERIYAKI BIRD FOOD
Ingredients

  • filtered water
  • 1 – 2 TBS Celtic sea salt
  • 1 lb raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 lb raw pumpkin seeds
  • 15 – 20 dates, soaked and drained
  • 1 TBS ginger
  • 2 TBS crushed garlic
  • 2 TBS soy sauce (use tamari for a gluten free version)

Preparation

  1. Place seeds in a large bowl and cover with filtered water.  Add 1 – 2 TBS of Celtic sea salt and soak 8 hours or overnight.  Drain.  Should be about 8 C soaked seeds.
  2. About an hour before seeds are done soaking bring a pot of filtered water to a boil and then remove from heat, add dates and cover.  Allow dates to soak for 1 hour.  Drain.
  3. In a food processor, process soaked dates until a smooth paste forms.
  4. Add ginger, garlic and soy sauce and continue to process.
  5. Scrape paste into bowl with soaked and drained seeds and mix well to coat.
  6. Place on non-stick dehydrator sheets and dehydrate for about 20 hours at 115° degrees. Or use the oven method (below)*.
  7. Store in air tight glass jars.

Eat Well, Be Well (Tweet, Tweet),
April

*OVEN DEHYDRATING METHOD
Spread items to be dehydrated out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and place in the oven.  If you have a convection setting use it, if not, prop the door open using a small metal object such as a measuring cup to allow air to circulate.  Dehydrate at 150° (or your oven’s lowest possible temperature) for 8 – 12 hours or until crispy.  You will lose some of the enzymes with this method, but will still have a yummy treat!

This post was shared on Read Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Paleo Granola Bars

Granola bars are another one of those things that sound healthier than they usually are.  A quick label inspection usually shows way more soy and sugar than I’m comfortable feeding my little people on a regular basis.   And if you are sensitive to gluten, grains or dairy…forget about it!

Here is a kid tested “granola bar” recipe that is sure to please the most discerning palates!

You can do better than that!

INGREDIENTS:
2 C raw sunflower seeds
2 C raw pumpkin seeds
15 – 20 dates with pits removed
3/4 C raisins
3/4 C shredded coconut
1 TBS vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
maple syrup (optional)

PREPARATION:
Soak the seeds in filtered water with 1 TBS Celtic sea salt for about 8 hours or overnight.  In a separate container soak the dates in warm filtered water for about an hour.  In a food processor, puree the soaked dates along with the vanilla and cinnamon until they form a paste.  Drain the water from the seeds.  You’ll probably have about 6 cups of seeds now.  In a large bowl, mix the seeds with the date paste, raisins and coconut.  Taste test for sweetness.  If you feel it’s not sweet enough add a little bit of pure maple syrup.  Really a TBS should be plenty as dates are super sweet.  Now return everything to the food processor and pulse until it is granola consistency.  You may need to do it in a couple of batches.  Now spread out the mixture onto several non-stick dehydrator sheets or a parchment lined baking sheet.  If using the dehydrator, set it to 115° and let it run for about 24 hours until crispy.  If you don’t have a dehydrator put them in the oven on the convection setting at 150° for 12 hours or until crispy.  You will lose some of the enzymes with this method, but it will still be a yummy treat!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Beef Jerky

Tastes better than it looks!

It’s hard to make beef jerky look good.  A friend of mine said that every time she see it she thinks of Cadaver Lab.  However, it’s hard to make it taste bad!  So play around with the spices in this recipe.  Don’t be afraid!  It’s a great snack for on-the-go this summer, full of protein and good to eat anytime of day. 

If you don’t have a dehydrator use the oven dehydrator method:

Set your oven to 155° or the lowest possible temperature and put it on the convection setting if you have that option.  You can also prop the oven door open a bit so that it stays cooler and air circulates. If your oven does not go below 200° you’ll need to find a different method of dehydrating.

GROUND BEEF JERKY:
For every pound of beef
mix in:
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 TBS naturally flavored Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS naturally flavored red pepper sauce
1/4 tsp dried minced onion

Mix all spices with the ground beef (meatloaf style) and roll out onto non-stick dehydrator sheets or parchment paper.  Aim for about 1/8″ thick.

Dry for about 6 hours at 155°F.  Take out the trays, invert the jerky and place on clean dehydrator sheets or fresh parchment paper.  Dry for another 6 hours or so until hard and leathery.  Cut it into strips and eat or store.

If you come up with any fun spice combos, please share with the class!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Fruit Leather

Banana Cocoa, Apple Cinnamon, Raspberry Pineapple

Looking for a fun and easy snack project now that the kids are finishing school.  This fruit leather is so easy to make that I made six different flavors with 18 preschoolers in 90 minutes!  Really, it’s that simple and it’s so much better than a fruit roll up or any store bought fruit snack.  Below are 6 different “recipes,” but really the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Basically, for each tray puree a quart of coarsely chopped organic fruit.  Frozen and thawed fruit works great.  If you use bananas make sure they are plenty ripe.  If you need to add a little liquid while blending, water or organic pear juice (RW Knudsen makes a nice one with no sugar added) is a perfect choice.  Add as little as possible so that the blender still functions properly but the mix isn’t too liquidy.

Spread the mix evenly onto dehydrator trays lined with non-stick dehydrator sheets or onto baking trays lined with parchment paper.  It should be about 1/8 – 1/4 inch in thickness.  Now put it in the oven or dehydrator set to about 150°F.  If your oven doesn’t go that low, just put it as low as it will go and prop the door open a bit so it stays slightly cooler.  If your oven has a convection setting use that!  Leave it to do it’s thing for about 8 – 12 hours.  Check it periodically to see what the texture is like.  You want to stop the dehydrating before it gets crispy!  After the half way point you can peel the fruit leather and flip it over if you like, but you don’t have to do this.  When it is no longer sticky and has a smooth surface, remove it from the oven, peel, roll and enjoy!



Peachy Pear, Mixed Berry, Strawberry Banana

BANANA COCOA
4 ripe bananas
2 TBS raw cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

APPLE CINNAMON
1 QT peeled, cored apples
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

RASPBERRY PINEAPPLE
1/2 QT raspberries
1/2 QT pineapple chunks


Look at these ingredients….YUCK!

PEACHY PEAR
1/2 QT peeled, cored pear1/2 QT peeled, sliced peaches
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
a few shakes of cinnamon

MIXED BERRY
1/2 QT blueberries
1/2 QT blackberries

STRAWBERRY BANANA
2/3 QT strawberries
1.5 ripe bananas

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesdays
with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Savory Favorites

This post is part of a weekly series in which I  give ideas for eating off the grid.  In other words…fringe eating.  It is also a REAL food challenge and my first GIVEAWAY!  See last Wednesday’s post for all of the giveaway details.  This post was supposed to be part of my Snacking Without Barcodes series but I ran out of days that week.  So many snacks, so little time!  With two toddlers, we do a lot of snacking in this house!  So here are some ideas for when sweet treats just won’t cut it and you need a good dose of salt!


CRACKERS

Crackers are a staple with kids and adults alike, but it is super hard to find a box of these savory  favorites that doesn’t include some unsavory ingredients.  Here is one of our favorite cracker recipes adapted from Nourished and Nurtured to make them not only grain and dairy free, but also nut free (sort of, though some are allergic to pine nuts, it’s rare and they are tolerated well in my house unlike other nuts).

  • One large roasted red bell pepper (in a pinch TJs sells some in a jar)
  • 1 C *crispy pine nuts (in a pinch you can buy the toasted ones)
  • 2  TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (or 2 tsp fresh)
  • 3 cloves garlic (pressed)
  • 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt

Roast & skin the red pepper and remove seeds.  Press the garlic unless you know that your processor will “find” it.  (If I don’t press it first, it often comes out in a big piece.)  Put all of the ingredients into the food processor and process until smooth.  Spread out to about a 1/4″ thickness onto one or more dehydrator sheets and put into the dehydrator (I highly recommend the Excalibur 3900) for 12 – 24 hours at 155°.  You can turn the sheet over at the halfway point by laying another dehydrator sheet and tray on top and “sandwiching” the crackers while you do a super stealthy flip!  This will help them to dry more evenly.  When they are finished break them into random shapes and sizes and top with your other savory favorites!

* Simply soak raw nuts or seeds 12 hours or overnight in filtered water with 1 TBS of Celtic sea salt.  Then put them on a baking sheet and “dehydrate” them at 150°.  If your oven doesn’t go this low just set it to the lowest temperature.  Mine only goes down to 170° and that has worked fine for me in the past.  If you have a dehydrator even better!  Put the nuts or seeds on the dehydrator sheets and set it to 150°.  Dehydrate for 12 hours or overnight.

POPCORN

Sometimes the simplest snack solutions escape us, but never underestimate the power of popcorn to please the masses!  I recommend getting a Whirley Pop popper if you don’t already have one.  I know air poppers are great but they don’t allow you to add the secret ingredients that supercharge this simple snack…grassfed butter or coconut oil!

  • 3 TBS coconut oil or grassfed butter
  • 1/2 C non GMO popcorn kernels
  • seasoning

Melt your butter or oil in the popper and add the kernels and then follow the instructions for your popper.  Top with the seasonings of your choice.  Some of our favorites are salt, garlic salt, cayenne, cinnamon and crumbled kale chips.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

This recipe is part of Real Food Wednesdays with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Snacking Without Barcodes: Sweet Treats

We all need a sweet treat now and then.  Even though I spent last week posting about how “evil” sugar is, I never said that we don’t indulge in the occasional sugar bomb.  We try to make it the exception instead of the rule.  Constant deprivation is no way to live and it rarely works in the long run, but if you plan ahead you can definitely catch those cravings before you end up at the 7-11 with a bag of M&Ms in hand.   These coconut macaroons are so easy and they make a good size batch.  The best part is they can be frozen so you can have them on hand in case of a sweet tooth emergency.

COCONUT MACAROONS

  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1/3 C honey (warmed to liquify)
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 2 C shredded, unsweetened coconut

Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form and then drizzle in vanilla and honey while continuing to beat.  It may lose a little body.  Then gently fold in the coconut.  Again, you might lose a little body, but it should still be pretty firm.  Drop small teaspoon size balls onto your baking or dehydrator sheet.  Dehydrate at 150° for about 20 hours.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can simulate this in your oven at the lowest possible temperature.

If you can’t handle waiting 20 hours you can bake them at 300° for half an hour, then 200° for an additional hour.  Just watch them so that they don’t get too brown.  I don’t like them quite as much this way, but they are still very good.

NOTE:  If you use egg yolks in your super smoothies, save the eggs whites in a glass jar in the fridge.  As long as no yolk gets in they will last quite a while.

OTHER SWEET TREATS:

Remember the key here is convenience.  Make these in advance and in bulk and package them in small containers or baggies for quick snacks.  Less is more.  Use mini muffin tins and drop small cookies onto the baking sheet so you have snack size portions.  You don’t have to eat them all now…freeze some for later.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Snacking Without Barcodes: Protein Power

©iStockphoto.com/marika

THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE EGG:
Eggs are an amazing source of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids and they are one of the easiest snacks ever.  Find yourself a good source of pastured eggs and get an extra dozen each week to boil and have on hand for a quick, nutrient dense snack.  If your little one won’t eat the yolk, keep encouraging him.  This is where the majority of the nutrients are found.  Here is a great chart comparing the egg yolk to the egg white.  The yolk itself would stack up to any multivitamin!  Remember taste buds can be trained, so please keep trying.  One work-around is to make an egg salad with a favorite condiment.  Mayo is the traditional choice, of course, but be creative.  Mustard or vinegar might work for some;  ketchup for others perhaps.  A little salt and pepper goes a long way in my house.

If you are concerned about the cholesterol = heart disease myth, rest assured that it has been solidly debunked!  Harvard Medical School research reported in 2006 that “Eggs aren’t the dietary demons they’re cracked up to be” but it’s taken they rest of a while to catch on. 

YOGURT:
Yogurt is another healthy snack that is a favorite in my house.  Full fat yogurt is a very good source of calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, zinc, potassium and protein making it a health-supportive food.  But wait, there’s more!  High quality yogurt contains live bacteria that provides a host of health benefits. These bacterial cultures will  fortify your immune system and may help you to live longer.  The trouble is that most of the store bought yogurt is garbage.  It is filled with sugar and artificial sweeteners as well as other ingredients I wouldn’t let in my house, let alone my body.  If you can find a local farm that makes yogurt this is a great alternative.  Another option is making it yourself.  Relax, you don’t actually have to culture the dairy yourself (unless you want to), but you can certainly sweeten and flavor it and have an easy snack that is far healthier than you could ever buy.  Simply take a quart or two of plain, full fat yogurt and dump it in the blender.  For each quart add 1/2 tsp of stevia and 1 or 2 tsp of vanilla.  This will give you a nice vanilla yogurt base which is great by itself, but if you want you could certainly add fruit.  Put it in small containers with the optional fruit on the bottom and have it prominently displayed in the front of the fridge for those hungry little (and big) people you love!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Snacking Without Barcodes: Smoothies & Popsicles

©iStockphoto.com/redhumv

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m a big smoothie fan.  Maybe you’ve even tried a few of my tried and true smoothie recipes.  Smoothies can be an amazing source of nutrients & probiotics and the ultimate hiding place for greens and anything else you are trying to sneak into your little one’s diet.  They also make a great snack.  My kids suck them down like milkshakes and quite honestly if they have a veggie infused smoothie as a snack I can relax a little bit about all of the other food they eat (or don’t eat) the rest of the day.

Here’s the trick…  Anytime you make a smoothie, make extra and freeze it in an ice-pop mold for a quick snack or dessert.  Here is a new smoothie recipe that we’ve been working on as well as one of our favorite popsicle recipes.

ABC Milkshake
Don’t be afraid of the avacodo.  This gives the smoothie a really nice texture!  This is a large recipe which should give you some leftovers to turn into ice-pops.

  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • 1 ripe Banana
  • 1-2 TBS raw Cacao powder
  • 1 C full fat coconut milk (the kind from a can)
  • 3 C full fat milk (you could substitute rice or almond milk if necessary)
  • stevia or honey to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  If you have any leftover pour it into ice-pop molds for later.

Banana-Datesicles

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 10 – 12 dates
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C full fat milk
  • 1/2 C full fat yogurt or kefir

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth and pour into ice-pop molds.  Freeze and enjoy!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Snacking without Barcodes: Nuts & Seeds

If you have little ones at home you know that snacks make up a huge part of their diet.  If I had a nickle for every time one of them said to me “Mama, I want a little snack.”  Well you get the idea.  Snacking is normal and healthy for little people (and for big people too).  The problem is that often the snacks that we offer aren’t as nutritious as the foods we eat at mealtime.  It’s quicker and easier to grab some prepackaged crackers or fruit snacks especially when on the go.  Once you become a label reader you may realize that you are missing out on some easy opportunities to fortify your child’s diet.  But convenience is convenience, and busy parents need that too.  Well, we can have both!  This week I’m going to to offer some suggestions for nutrient dense snacks that you can make and package in bulk on the weekend and have on hand for the entire week.

Nuts and seeds are great options for quick, easy and nutritious snacks.  As I’ve mentioned before, both nuts and seeds contain phytic acid which blocks the absorption of essential minerals, so before you go crazy with the nuts, make sure that you are neutralizing these anti-nutrients by soaking or sprouting.  This is an extra step, but it really doesn’t take long.  Simply soak raw nuts or seeds 12 hours or overnight in filtered water with 1 TBS of Celtic sea salt.  Then put them on a baking sheet and “dehydrate” them at 150°.  If your oven doesn’t go this low just set it to the lowest temperature.  Mine only goes down to 170° and that has worked fine for me in the past.  If you have a dehydrator even better!  Put the nuts or seeds on the dehydrator sheets and set it to 150°.  Dehydrate for 12 hours or overnight. 

If you are able to find sprouted nuts or seeds at the store, you can skip this step, but once you get into the habit of soaking and dehydrating them it’s really no big deal.  Honestly, it’s one minute to put them into the salt water and two minutes to drain them and spread them out onto the baking or dehydrator sheet.  NOTE:  If you are using raw cashews, soak them no more than 6 hours or the texture will be funky.

So once you get into the grove and reach a point where you have nuts and seeds on hand on a regular basis, the snack possibilities are endless.  Here are a couple of our go-to seed snacks.  We keeps seeds and nuts separate because of a nut allergy, but you can definitely mix and match them anyway you like.

POWERFUL PROTEIN BARS
These are our favorite snack lately.  You can double this recipe if you want to make a larger batch.

  • 2 cups soaked and dehydrated nuts or seeds (or a combo)
  • 6 TBS unrefined coconut oil
  • 10 dates

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s the consistency of a very lumpy peanut butter.  Press the mixture into an 8X8 dish or into individual mini muffin cups.  Move to the refrigerator and refrigerate until solid.  Cut them into bars or pop them out of the muffin tins and package in snack size baggies or small containers so that you have them on hand for lunches and on-the-go.

CRUNCHY TRAIL MIX

After you’ve prepared your nuts and/or seeds simply combine them with unsweetened, dried fruits, coconut and a few chocolate chips if it’s a special treat.  Put individual servings into snack size baggies or small containers so that you have them on hand for lunches and on-the-go.

The mantra for this week…”If everything you give them is equally healthy, then it doesn’t matter what they eat.”

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

You Haven’t Tried Kale Chips…

Until you’ve given these kale chips a try, you haven’t lived.  These are so good that you’ll swear that they are junk food but not only are they a superfood, they are dehydrated at a low temperature so the enzymes are retained.  Remember, eating raw foods helps prevent chronic leukocytosis and the health problems that may accompany this condition.

Mine just came out of the dehydrator this morning and they’re almost gone.  I did give some away to a friend who said they tasted like chips with queso.  The kids love them too!

This recipe is dairy free, gluten free & nut free!  It works great in a dehydrator but if you don’t have one set your oven to the lowest possible temperature and put it on the convection setting if you have that option.  You can also prop the oven door open a bit so that it stays cooler.  The optimal temperature to dehydrate these is 115° but before I got my dehydrator I did them in the oven as described above at 170° and they turned out great.  Be aware that you will lose the enzymes this way, so while still yummy, they are not “raw.”

Queso Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 bunches of kale, washed, dried, and torn from the stems (chip sized pieces)
  • 1 cup pine nuts, soaked overnight in salt water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 of a medium red bell pepper coarsely chopped into  5 or 6 pieces
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of Celtic salt (I like it a bit more salty)
  • pinch or more of cayenne pepper (optional)
Preparation:
  1. Add all ingredients expect the kale to a high powered blender or food processor. Process until you get a smooth consistency.
  2. Massage sauce onto kale with hands for about 2 minutes until really coated.
  3. Lay out onto lined dehydrator trays or onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Dehydrate at 115° until crispy (12+ hours) or as described above if you don’t have a dehydrator.

Eat Well, Be Well,
April