Dec 28, 2015

Chicken and Collards Pilau (easy & delish)

A foodie-friend of mine with small children passed along this recipe for Chicken and Collards Pilau.  I made it within the week of her recommendation and wonder why I waited so long.

Everyone in my family liked it.

It's a one dish wonder and comes together rather quickly.  Win-win!!

After reading the recipe you can see it is quite versatile.  I used kale instead of collards, doubled the pork (used Italian sausage) and reduced the amount of chicken.   I omitted the celery because I didn't want to make another trip to the store and used homemade chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. Next time I will use two bunches of greens instead of one.  I think mushrooms would be nice in this too.

Does anyone follow a recipe exactly?  :)

A word about pork: if you are not able to buy local pork, consider purchasing at Whole Foods or other reputable source.  Industrially raise pork is given routine doses of antibiotics whether or not the animal needs it.  The residual antibiotics in the meat is transferred to your body.   If you ever need to take an antibiotic, you don't want to have a tolerance built up to antibiotics because of the meat you're eating.

If you're looking for a new-easy-yummy dish to add to your repertoire put this one on the list.  Don't wait more than a week or you will be kicking yourself.


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Dec 10, 2015

Free Pizza at New Pizza Joint

Hey Little Rock foodies!  There's a new pizza place in town.  Blaze Pizza opened Thursday (yesterday) in Pleasant Ridge and is offering free pizza today (Friday 10am-10pm) to anyone who follows them on social media and can prove it on their phone.

Blaze Pizza boasts of made from scratch dough, artisanal ingredients, and fast-fired for 180 seconds.  Check it out!

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Dec 9, 2015

10 Easy AND Healthy Party Snacks

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

But not exactly the EASIEST.

Here are some ideas to make your party going a bit easier on your conscience health.

1.  Real Food Cheese Dip:: don't tell your family there's no Velveeta in it!  I've been making HB's recipe for dinner and taking it to parties (crowd favorite!) In the comments, I wrote a minor change I've made to the recipe.

2.  Low carb and nutrient dense:: Pull out a pretty platter and take a quick plate of cheese cubes, olives,  nuts, and dried fruit.  Kroger and Whole Foods makes this really easy.  They have an olive bar and a giant cheese selection.  Of course you can use jarred olives.  Bonus points if you buy cute toothpicks.

3.  High carb and kid friendly::  Fruit platter - quick rinse grapes, berries and slice up oranges or buy a bag of Cuties (easy to peel!).  Remember if you take apple slices to sprinkle them with lemon, orange or pineapple juice.  This step will keep the apples from turning brown.

4.  Pop popcorn stovetop in coconut oil.

5.  Hummus and veggie sticks, chips, or whatever strikes your fancy.  You can make it homemade or grab a container at the store.  Alton Brown adds baking soda when cooking chickpeas in a crock pot.  This makes for creamy hummus.

Lori's Pineapple Cheese ball
6.  Growing up, it seemed there was a cheese ball at every function of worth.  Lori makes a yummy one.

7.  Grab a jar of salsa and your favorite chips.  Bonus if you wanna share some of your probiotic salsa.

8.  Energy bars or balls take a bit more energy to make than opening a jar, but man, they are good.  Best of all, you can feel good about your family snacking on them!

9.  If you want to have a bit of sugar but not go overboard, coconut macaroons are an easy and relatively good for you cookie.

10.  I've also been making low sugar no bake cookies and substituting some of the oats with coconut for easier digestion (grains, unless properly soaked or sprouted are difficult for the body to assimilate their nutrients).  Of course you can make those cookies completely gluten free by using all coconut and no oats.

What have I missed?  What do you like to take to parties?


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Dec 1, 2015

Pasture Raised Eggs (at Kroger)

Buying local pastured eggs is one of my food priorities.  Sometimes however, I can't always find local eggs... or, enough to fill my family's demands.  I have an egg share with Farm Girl but lately my people have been eating a lot.  Unfortunately I think this is a trend that will only continue.  My 11 year old son grew three inches last year.

After talking with a knowledgeable friend, I decided to try the above pictured "Pastured Raised" brand eggs that my Kroger carries.   This morning I was delightfully surprised at the color of the yolk.  The bright orange hue is telling of the chicken's living conditions.  These ladies ate a bit of green grass in their lifetime.  

The dark color in the yolk is evidence of nutritional density.  If you are looking to sneak some nutrition into your family, buy the best quality of eggs you can afford.  Quality eggs taste better, too.

Buy local when possible.  When in a pinch, I will now recommend and buy Pasture Raised brand from box stores.  


Related:: Why you should pay more for eggs and the difference in wording on the cartons.

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Nov 30, 2015

Elderberry Syrup: Remedy for Cold & Flu

image from Wikipedia
Homemade elderberry syrup is a part of my family's winter health regimen.  We each take a teaspoon a day (when I can remember!) When cold or flu symptoms appear we take up to 4 doses a day.  The syrup is soothing for a throat that is irritated from coughing.  My kids love the taste very much.

You can purchase elderberry syrup at Whole Foods or Amazon but it is much more cost effective to make your own.  You may recognize the berries, some people even wild harvest them.
Elderberries are known for their high values of vitamin A, B & C as well as their immune building properties and have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years for healing.

The day I made our year's worth of syrup (yes, it will keep for a year in the fridge if you use local, unprocessed honey), I stopped at Water Buffalo on Rodney Parham for 8oz of dried elderberries.  Water Buffalo is a brewing and gardening store.  You can also buy berries on line.

I followed this recipe from Wellness Mama and also read about it from The Healthy Home Economist, who drizzles it on pancakes.
I like to store the final syrup in a wide mouth mason jar.  You will want to stir the jar before spooning your daily dose.

Shortly after making this batch, my youngest children came down with something that resulted in coughs, fevers and occasional ear aches.  My daughter requested the magical onion for her sore ear.  I am amazed by the results -- and we escaped the doctor's office (and antibiotics), again!

I'm always on the hunt for home remedies that work.  Tell me, what is working for you these days?


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Nov 12, 2015

Cooking Class in My Kitchen

Chicken pot pie is a comfort food that many people love and it can be made very nourishing.  It is a recipe that is easy to double and freeze half.  

When: Monday, November 30, 2015 at 6:30pm
We will start by enjoying a hot chicken pot pie together.
Where: my kitchen, near I-430 & Rodney Parham
Cost: $30 per person, which includes a small chicken pot pie to take home
What to bring: The knife used most in your kitchen.

Some of the culinary topics covered:

- cooking / deboning a whole chicken
- taste testing: crock pot vs. oven roasted chicken
- knife skills
- bone broth basics and why homemade broth is so good for us
- creating cream of chicken / mushroom soup from scratch
- making a pie crust from scratch

Class size is limited to 6 people.  This would be a great class for mom and daughter to take together.  Or a fun gift to give to the person who has everything.  Contact me if you are interested in other group cooking lessons.

luvmyhub AT

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Nov 9, 2015

More About Natural Deodorants.

I love it when people give feedback to this blog.  I learn so much from you readers! There were some comments posted on my previous post about natural deodorant that I thought were worth posting again.  After reading a blog post, on another blog, I do not usually go back and read the comments and assuming the same for you.

The first comment is from the creator of the deodorant I am currently wearing.  (note: I am not compensated in any way for promoting this brand.)  I learned a few things in her comment:

O'Brenda November 7, 2015 at 11:02 AM

Thanks so much for mentioning my deodorant (Ziryab's Body Brew - named after the slave, musician and inventor who is credited with inventing deodorant among other things.) I started selling it because it changed my life.

However, it's good to know that some people can't wear baking soda deodorants as easily as others. My deodorant works by raising the alkaline under the arms so that the smelling acid-loving bacteria can't grow. Baking Soda is super effective because of its high alkaline level. Alum salt works the same way but its alkaline level is lower. I use a little in my Mineral Deodorant (an alternative for people who can't take the higher alkaline level of the original; deodorant) but focus on the high alkaline minerals of magnesium and calcium. I chose to add a little Alum because it is my understanding that unlike the Aluminum in antiperspirants which works by entering the pores and when wet, swells and plugs your pores, preventing you from sweating. I'm no scientist but I believe Alum works only by raising alkaline. Aluminum is the third most prevalent mineral on earth, so by itself, it probably doesn't pose too much of a health risk. That said, there is a great article here that stresses the need for us to reduce our exposure in other ways including environmental activism. Anyway, I will continue to research and decide whether to take Alum out entirely from Mineral Deo (there is none in my original deodorant featured here.)

When trying natural deodorants with baking soda, there is a chance you will rash either at first or sometime during your early use of it. If so, don't give up on the deodorant too quickly as there are things you can do like wear less, and as above, do not overlayer. You can also apply a soothing coconut oil or aloe on first and avoid use after shaving, Good luck to everyone in finding the perfect deodorant for you. There is one!

Another commenter wrote:

Tonya November 4, 2015 at 8:46 AM

I recently was reading that aluminum pans only secreted aluminum if they were scraped (like with a knife or metal utensil). It would be interesting to read more and see if there is more about this.

Another brand of natural deodorant to try:

mhutsell November 6, 2015 at 8:38 PM

My fav deodorant is Pit Paste. I have tried MANY kinds and always end up back at pit paste. It does not feel sticky going on, it smells nice (lavender is my fave), and works well. Like you, I have to reapply if I am going to be sweating a lot. By the end of the day if I haven't reapplied, I might notice a smell but then I just wash my pits before bed. Like you I prefer the hassle to the toxins!

Martin Eisele sent an email saying:

The Arm & Hammer product contains triclosan which is under review by the FDA. Animal studies have shown some links to hormone disruption, among other things, but inconclusive on humans.  Read more in this article.  Besides hand sanitizers and the like, you can find it in toothpastes such as Colgate. Conspiracy theorists claim it is a sister chemical to Agent Orange, but chemicals similar in structure may be completely different. Chemical, nonetheless.

Thanks everyone for your input!

Finally, after publishing the previous post, I thought of another way I reduce aluminum: by using aluminum-free baking powder. I buy Rumford brand (in the red can), which is also GMO-free.  The Kroger nearest me does not sell it anymore but some larger Krogers will sell it.  Otherwise, look for it at Whole Foods and Drug Emporium.

If all of this talk of toxins stresses you out, let me be the first to say: do what you can, when you can then rest knowing what you've done is good enough.  There is more to this world than stressing about what goes into your body.  Jesus said, "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth."

On the journey with you,

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Nov 3, 2015

Natural Deodorants:: A Review

It not unusual to talk with someone who has a loved one suffering from dementia.  Both of my grandmothers showed signs before passing on.  From the limited research I've done (please do your own), aluminum in the brain seems to be a common factor among Alzheimer patients.  Most every deodorant - antiperspirants in particular - are made with aluminum or some derivative (check your label).

If you apply antiperspirant every day, I'm thinking there is a possibility that antiperspirant could be contributing to the increase in aluminum deposits in the body.

[Just so our terms are similar: deodorant helps you smell better, antiperspirant keeps a person from sweating.  I recognize there are times when it isn't cool to sweat, like on your wedding day.  For the most part though, you should encourage sweating.  That is one way to remove toxins from the body.]

One baby step I am taking toward cleaner living is to reduce my intake of aluminum by choosing to wear deodorant without antiperspirant.  I have not found a "normal" or store bought women's deodorant without antiperspirant.

There are several men's deodorants without antiperspirant.  I have worn this on occasion but I don't really like smelling like men's cologne.

I've tried several natural deodorants.   None will ever have to stink-stay-away-power that a chemical laden antiperspirant wields.

Note: I am not a very sweaty person even when exerting.   Most of my life is in a climate controlled environment.  Plus the people closest to me are children who emit smells of their own.  I figure, what do I have to loose when experimenting with deodorants?  Believe me, I have experimented for years with varying amounts of success.  At the bottom of the post I will tell you my favorite natural deodorant.

Here is a bit of advice I can give for those who desire to make the switch to a more natural remedy.

Start with clean pits -- use soap and water, daily.  When I used conventional deodorant/anti-persperant there were occasional days when I would not shower but reapply.  Woah Nellie! You cannot get away with that trick when wearing natural deodorants.  Start with a clean slate everyday. Sometimes on super sweaty days I need to grab a washcloth mid-day and reapply.  That small inconvenience is one price I am willing to pay to keep toxins out of my body.

If I remember correctly, the first few days after switching from conventional antiperspirants to natural deodorants, the detox effect was particularly, um, pronounced.  As in, your body is working hard to detox through your pores and you might have a stronger body odor in the beginning.  Don't give up!  It doesn't last forever.  The winter (now!) is a perfect time to make the switch.  In fact, there have been winters where I have not worn any deodorant at all.  I'm keepin' it real today!

When trying to decide which natural deodorant to use, the first step is similar to eating packaged food.  Flip it over and read the ingredient label.  Above is Burt's Bees, a container I bought at the beginning of my journey and knew next to nothing.  For those of you who have essential oils, you can make this one.  But it didn't work for me.  At all.  It smells nice when applying though.

Below is a product from Arm & Hammer that I can buy at Kroger for about $1.  For the most part, I like its effectiveness.  I don't like the long list of ingredients.  Aluminum and parabens aren't mentioned but there are several other shady ingredients.  I have used this deodorant on and off for years.
[EDIT: a reader wrote to say:
 The Arm & Hammer product contains triclosan which is under review by the FDA. Animal studies have shown some links to hormone disruption, among other things, but inconclusive on humans. Read more here.  Besides hand sanitizers and the like, you can find it in toothpastes such as Colgate. Conspiracy theorists claim it is a sister chemical to Agent Orange, but chemicals similar in structure may be completely different. Chemical, nonetheless.   -- Martin Eisele]

The next product is local.  Everything I've purchased from Tammy Sue I love.  This deodorant worked well for me - I love her ingredients.  However, the price point was a little high at $7.
Recently a friend emailed me to tell me about the below deodorant she has been buying on Etsy.  It was recommended by her naturopath.  I read some of the reviews and decided to give it a try.  I'm sold.  And, I've even convinced my husband to wear it!  The pictured 2 oz travel size liquid bottle costs $5 has worked for my husband and I for a couple months and we have several more weeks usage left.  I like it so much I just ordered a 16oz refill.

What about a crystal rock like this one?  The website rightly states there is no aluminum in the crystal.  However, this article explains that alum contains aluminum and if you want to avoid aluminum in your bloodstream, you should avoid the crystal deodorants.

Other places to reduce your aluminum intake: I don't use aluminum cookware in my kitchen.  I will, however, use aluminum over food and I will cook on occasion in disposable aluminum pans.  I also use aluminum-free baking powder.  Look for the red can of Rumford brand.

My husband and I are also refusing vaccines for our children (yes, there is aluminum in vaccines -- going directly to your blood stream ---scary!!  A two month old vaccinated baby will have 705-2125mcg aluminum in their blood stream, by 18 months a fully vaccinated child will have 2795-6830mcg of aluminum.  Read more stats here.  PLEASE EDUCATE before you vaccinate.)

As for homemade deodorants: I've made a few recipes and was never satisfied for various reasons.  If you have one that works for you --WAHOO!  A friend of mine uses equal parts coconut oil and arrowroot powder.  I tried this for a few days and liked the results.  I didn't have problems with stains on my clothes.  My complaint was more along the lines of messy application.

Have you tried any of the ones pictured above?  Do you have a solution that you could share?


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Aug 24, 2015

Natural Remedy for Ear Aches

My children have never had ear infections (that I can think of).  That all changed Friday night when my 5-year old started to complain of an ear ache while we were at the pool.  It seems that this time of year swimmers ear is common at our pool.  Not sure why.

My husband took her home after I'd given him instructions to put peroxide in her ear first.  We usually use alcohol to dry up the water after swimming but she has scabs inside her ear and wouldn't let us use alcohol because it burns.  I've also heard of white vinegar used in the ears after swimming to combat swimmers ear.

For ear aches (or any other minor aches) we use lavender essential oil.  My husband rubbed lavender on the outside and around the ear.  I also recommended a warm compress.  He heated a rice bag until warm and applied it to her ear.  

These things brought some comfort but by the time I got home from the pool with the boys she was crying from pain.

After texting another naturally minded momma for ideas, the remedy that came back sounded so strange: steam an onion.

I was desperate for my baby to have relief so I was willing to try anything.  Even crazy home remedies.

How to Juice An Onion
In a small saucepan with a lid, over low heat I warmed a couple tablespoons of olive oil then added half an onion, cut side in the olive oil.  I steamed the onion for several minutes until it seemed the onion was soft through.  Not completely falling-apart-mushy, just soft.

When the onion was cool to the touch (so as not to burn myself when I picked it up with bare hands), I covered the onion with an old rag.

The next part of this story is not an exaggeration.

My daughter was crying, sobbing with tears running down her face.  I placed the warm onion on her ear and within a minute she had fallen asleep.  It was crazy.  Bizarre.  If I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes, I might not have believed it.  [That is precisely what my remedy-momma-friend told me to expect.]

I walked to the next room and asked my 11 year old son if he had heard the crying.  Of course he did. I told him that Sister was now asleep.  He couldn't believe it either.  She slept through the night.

The next day she didn't complain at all about her ear hurting.

That night was a different story.  She was up several times complaining of ear ache.  I tried lavender oil which brought some relief but she was still in pain.  I had thrown away the onion from the previous night (and didn't want to steam another onion at 2am).  In my arsenal however, I had the onion juice in olive oil in a syringe.  I dropped a few drops in her ears (both ears hurt the second night) and almost instantly she was back asleep again.  Crazy I tell you!  I can't remember if I had to do that 3 or 4 times --things are foggy in the night.  With confidence I can say that each time after applying the onion oil she was asleep within 30 seconds.

The next morning, she told us that she had been cured by "magical onions."

I read similar story here (be sure to read the comments for other testimonies).

What do you think?  Is this a coincidence?  Will you try steamed onions the next time?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor but I play one at home and practice non-toxic remedies on my family.  

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Aug 23, 2015

Okra Season!

Last week I pickled some okra from Rattle's Garden.  Actually, I lacto-fermented them to boost their nutritional value.  I followed a recipe similar to my pickle recipe by making a simple brine and adding starter juice from Bubbies pickles or sauerkraut.  I used horseradish leaves again for tannins to help keep the okra crispy.  The dill from my garden is long gone so I used dried dill.  Not wanting to make another trip to the grocery, I re-used (fermented again?) garlic from a previous batch of pickles.  They still had potency!

As you can see from the picture above, I weighted the okra with a smaller jar, filled with water.  Otherwise the okra was floating out of the brine.  It needs to stay submerged.  

End result?  I liked them.  My 2.5 year old liked them.  The other members of my family were not fans.  Not everybody likes the okra.  

However, if you like okra be sure to try out these recipes that we've posted on the blog before -

Ginger Peach Gumbo - use purple hull peas for bonus!


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Jun 5, 2015

Easy Pickle Making (Canning Not Required)

If you like pickles, go to the farmers market and grab some cucumbers.  Make this recipe ASAP.  
I made them by lacto-fermentation, which means they are power packed with probiotics.  It's a rather easy method as you will see below.

4 Reasons to Ferment Veggies

1.  Ferments build your immune system with probiotics to fight the bad bugs in your belly.
2.  Ferments provide digestive support (especially as we age, our digestive systems slow.)
3.  Ferments create enzymes that enable your body to assimilate nutrients (i.e. incorporate the healthy food you eat!)
4.  Fermenting is fun!  And easy! And you don't have to boil water and make your kitchen a sauna to get the job done.

dill, fresh or dried
other spices - mustard seed, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, whole cloves
sea salt (iodized salt is antibacterial, we are trying to encourage bacteria to grow!)
non-chlorinated water (again, trying to grow bacteria!)
starter (I prefer using juice from either Bubbies pickles or sauerkraut)

*Local and organic produce is best.  By using local, you are getting peak freshness.  I recommend organic because the process of fermentation makes food easier to digest (see reason #2, above).  If the food is easier to digest, then any chemicals used on the veggies will be easier to digest, too.  I don't want to be digesting chemicals.  Use organic when fermenting.

**Below are the tannins I used: horseradish and oak leaves.  Pictured on the right is fresh dill (all from my garden!)
I really liked the flavor the horseradish imparted to the pickles.  However, oak is just fine, too.  You can also use grape leaves for tannins.  You definitely want to use some kind of tannin, otherwise you will have flabby pickles.

I basically used this recipe from Cultures for Health.  I didn't have mustard seed.  Other spices I used were 2 large cloves of garlic, two sprigs of dill, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a few black peppercorns.  I followed the recipe except, I used about 1/4 cup of Bubbies juice to the half gallon jar of ferment to act as a starter.  In the quart jar, I used about 2T of Bubbies juice.  Cultures for Health doesn't mention using a starter in that recipe, but in my experience, using a starter helps to achieve a consistent and palatable flavor.

In the half gallon I used less red pepper, more oak leaves and some horseradish.   The quart jar was spicier and only used horseradish for tannins (no oak leaves).  There is a subtle oak flavor when using oak leaves, emphasis on subtle.  If I didn't tell you about the oak, you probably couldn't put your finger on it.

The picture on the left is just after assembly, the one on the right is 36 hours later.  Notice how the brine is becoming cloudier.  That means magic is happening in the jar.

 You'll see in the picture below that on the third day the jar is even cloudier.  If your kitchen is warmer than 70*, I recommend fermenting in a cooler with a block of ice (not touching).  Ferments prefer to do their magic in the 60-70* range.  Anything warmer than that can cause an imbalance of proper bacteria.  Read more about warm weather care for ferments here.  Here you will find more tips for crunchier lacto-fermented pickles.
They taste just like Bubbies brand.  One of my taste testers went so far as to say they were better.

Don't just take my word for it.  Go make some!

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Jun 2, 2015

Good Fats in My Kitchen

Thankfully the skinny is out on the low-fat diet trend.  People are opening their eyes to the wisdom of healthy traditional cultures who eat great amounts of saturated fats.  

Fat is what makes food taste good.  And it's what helps stabilize your hormones and blood sugars.  Oh, and did you know if you dehydrated your brain, half of it would be ...wait for it...FAT.  Growing children need lots of good fat.  Hormonal women need fat.  Want to think clearly?  Eat fat.  Trying to loose weight?  Eat fat.

As I was making pancakes one day, it dawned on me to write a blog post about the different kind of fats I use in the kitchen. (However, putting that thought into action has taken a month...or two.)

In no particular order, here are a few pictures and reasons I use each of these fats.

Pork Lard is excellent for frying as it lends itself well to high heat.  I don't recommend lard from the grocery store, as it has been hydrogenated for a longer shelf life.  This industrialized process deems it very unhealthy.  

Buy lard from a local farmer or render some yourself, it isn't difficult. Pigs that roam outdoors absorb vitamin D from the sun and this vitamin D is passed along to me (as opposed to industrial pork that never sees the light of day).  Eat lard and don't feel guilty.  Freckle Face Farm is usually at the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturdays.
With lard, I like to deep fry falafel, fry pancakes on the griddle, frying potatoes, making tortillas, pie crusts and even biscuits.  Some people like to pop their popcorn in lard.  However, I prefer to pop mine in a combination of coconut oil and palm oil (below, palm oil is the reddish orange oil).  Movie popcorn originally used palm oil (thus the nice orange color of popcorn at the theater).
Coconut oil can be used in baking or frying.  Unrefined coconut oil will impart a bit of a coconut flavor, whereas lard is a neutrally flavored fat.  I have purchased gallons coconut oil from Tropical Traditions and Mountain Rose Herbs and prefer the latter.

Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat.  If you roast a chicken, or cook one in a crock pot, the fat that rises to the top of the broth is schmaltz.  It can be skimmed and used for frying and lower temperatures.  I like to sauté veggies, especially onions in schmaltz.
Butter - oh man, do we eat some butter.  In the winter it seems we eat almost twice as much as the rest of the year.  It is not uncommon for our family of 5 to eat 2 pounds a week.  We slather butter on most anything (my husband has been known to put it on bananas!)  One of the many benefits of butter is that it is already packaged in handy proportions.  You will find conventional butter (not organic) in my fridge most days because I'd break the bank buying organic butter.  The way I figure it, the majority of my family's fats are from clean, local sources so I don't feel guilty about buying conventional butter.  I buy organic butter occasionally - esp. if it is on sale.

Not pictured:
Tallow - rendered beef fat can be used similarly as pork lard.  Currently I do not have any in my kitchen but when I do, we like to fry potatoes in it.

Bacon grease -  It's like gold.  I save it in a jar in the fridge - it will keep for months.  My favorite application is to flavor sautéed kale or fry eggs (lard is good for eggs too).  I've even used bacon grease to make a maple/bacon salad dressing.  Bacon is good on everything. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - I buy at least a gallon a year from Chaffin Family Orchards and use it for salad dressing and mayonnaise.

For salads, we also add nuts, cheese and avocado for more satiating power.

Toasted Expeller Pressed Sesame Oil - frying Asian inspired foods at higher temps and in salad dressing.  I use it sparingly because the flavor can be quite strong.

Grapeseed Oil - this isn't a super healthy oil but it has a neutral flavor and I feel it is better for me than canola oil.  I use equal portions of grape seed and olive oil when making mayonnaise.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil from Green Pasture.  These are used as supplements (aka vitamins). 

Which fats have I forgotten?  Do you have a favorite?

Eat some healthy fat at every meal,

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May 30, 2015

Tip for Fresh (& Organic!) Veggies

The sight of insects or worms can be unnerving if you aren't used to seeing them in your produce.    Grocery store produce has been washed throughly and is often sterile.  Whereas local produce will have a bit more, shall I say... character

This week in my local veggies, cabbage worms (caterpillars) greeted me.  Upon seeing them, I gave thanks that my farmer wasn't using chemicals to fight the bad guys.  I could fight them in the sink. 

I texted several of my friends, warning them about the crawlies, and encouraged them to eat the broccoli soon. 
One friend texted back with sage wisdom.  In the event you find crawlies in your veggies this summer I'll share her words.  She said, "Mom used to soak veggies in a sink of salt water which would make the worms crawl to the top."

Makes sense to me.  And I tried it - it works.  Once visible, I flicked 'em back in the water where they died.  Soaking in salt water is a bit more laborious than just picking and squishing.  But if squishing gives you the jeebies then try salt water. 
And the next time you see bugs (or bug marks) on your produce from a farmers market, give thanks for chemical-free food!


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May 4, 2015

Vegetable Fermenting Workshop - May 15

On Friday, May 15 at 7pm, I will be hosting a vegetable fermenting workshop in my kitchen.  We will learn the hows and whys of lacto-fermenting.  I will open my fridge and let you taste the ferments my family enjoys.  Together we will make probiotic-packed sauerkraut.
Making sauerkraut is so easy that a 2-year old can do it.  Here are pictures to prove it.

 Caroline turns 5 this week and still loves helping in the kitchen.

Class size is limited; only 5 openings remain.  Cost is $10 per person.  Email me if you are interested: luvmyhub AT  


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Mar 12, 2015

Vegetable Fermenting Class

A reader contacted me and asked if I would teach a class on vegetable fermentation in her kitchen.  Of course!  We had a fabulous time.

When I pulled out my kraut pounder, the most senior woman exclaimed, "Oh, so that's what that thing is!  I have one sitting on my mantle but didn't know what it was for."  As a child, she had even made sauerkraut.

If you're interested in hosting a class with friends, shoot me an email and we can talk details.

luvmyhub@gmail. com

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Mar 9, 2015

Pâté from Butcher and Public

One of the many things I have learned from Dr. Price's work with people untouched by ill-effects of modern food is the importance of eating organ meats.  Organ meats are some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet.

Knowing I should eat liver and actually eating liver are two different things.

I've tried to hide liver in enchiladas (my taste buds found it.)  I have a beef tongue in my freezer wanting to try this recipe because I've heard that tongue is quite palatable if you can get over the fact that you're preparing a tongue.  Also in my freezer is a beef heart and too many packages of liver.

Nutrition in my freezer does nothing for my body unless I eat it.

So -- what's a girl to do?

Buy ice cream and pâté.  Seriously.

Ice cream is the reward for eating organ meat.  

What is pâté?  
In simple terms, pâté is cooked ground meat with a high concentration of fat.  Usually it is a combination of meat which includes a portion of liver as well as other organ meats.  Other names it goes by: liverwurst or braunschweiger. 

I decided to leave the preparation to Butcher & Public in Argenta.  [Travis, the butcher, uses locally grown *clean* animals for his meats *awesome*.]  The day I was in the store, they offered two varieties of pâté.  Upon my request, they were eager to offer samples of each type.  In the end I bought some of both.

The variety on the left, above, was composed of liver, kidney and maybe one other organ.  Its texture was similar to bologna; firmer than the pâté on the left.  It was flavorful in a delightful smoked meat kind of way.

The pâté on the right had a higher concentration of liver, which caused it to taste more liver-y.  The texture was creamy, more like a meat mousse, which means it probably also had more fat in it, too.

They both were definitely palatable.  I might go so far to say the one on the left was delicious.
Once home, I toasted slices of a baguette and added honey mustard just as they'd done in the store.  (I make honey mustard with equal parts of ...wait for it...honey and mustard.)

As you may guess, just because I liked the taste of something in the store does not mean it will pass the taste test from the pickiest of my tribe.
 For the gluten-free eaters in my house, I prepared it on slices of cucumber.
What did my family think?

I was shocked.  My most adventurous child couldn't be persuaded to eat more than the thank you portion.  The pickiest eater said, "I could eat this for an after school snack...everyday."  This is saying something.

Here's the kicker: we had pizza for dinner.  The picky child, who always calls me out for even the slightest change in a recipe, had eaten so much pâté that he only ate one piece of pizza -- when he usually eats 3 or 4.  He had eaten more pâté than everyone combined.  This is huge.

The morals from my story:
1.  Buy pâté from Butcher & Public.  Hillcrest Artisan Meats also makes it.  I haven't tried it at HAM but have drooled from their Instagram feed.  
2.  Eat it. (Because it doesn't do the body good just sitting in the fridge.)
3.  Bribe your family with ice cream.  The Clean Plate Club has its rewards.  By the way, when I passed around the initial samples of pâté, I didn't mention ice cream.  I wanted to see what my people would do without a sweet promise.  Ice cream was mentioned after pizza. 

Other articles
How to Eat More Organ Meats by Chris Kessler (great article + recipes)
Health Benefits of Eating Organ Meats by Dr. Mercola
Why Everyone Should Be Eating Organ Meat by The Paleo Mom

Pssst -- Interested in learning about butchering a whole hog?  Travis from Butcher & Public is teaching a class March 21.  Check out the details here.


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Mar 4, 2015

A Salad Dressing for Mexican Night

If you would like a light dressing to compliment a Mexican meal, look no further.  This one is simple yet flavorful.

Often I encourage people, who want to take baby steps towards healthier living, to make their own salad dressing.  Store bought salad dressings are made with unhealthy oils and usually chocked full of corn syrup.  When you make your own salad dressing you know what's in there, the quality is much higher and saves you money.

The 4-Ingredient Salad Dressing

1.  lime juice
2.  honey
3.  olive oil
4.  sea salt

Lime juice = When I made it this week, I juiced 2 limes.  Some limes can be really dry but these gave me about 1/4 cup lime juice.  You could also use bottled lime juice.  I think fresh is more flavorful (when I can remember to grab them while I'm at the store!) but also fresh limes have enzymes that help you digest your food.  The bottled lime juice has been pasteurized for longer shelf life.

honey = I used about 2 tablespoons of honey.  You can add more, or less.  Just don't omit.  Whisk the honey  into the lime juice.

olive oil = about 1/3 cup.  If you can think of the lime juice and honey as one, you want about equal that amount of olive oil.  [I buy a gallon of Chaffin Family Olive Oil once a year.]

sea salt = about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt.  Please add the salt.  It's a game changer for this dressing.  Also, making the switch to sea salt is another simple, painless baby step toward healthier living.  The sea provides many trace minerals our modern diets are lacking.

The Salad

Start with green lettuce.  I went to the grocery store specifically to buy jicama but they were out [I've written about jicama here.]  So I decided to add green onions and thin slices of apple, since those are the flavors that jicama imitates.

Easy peasy.  

Hope you try it.

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Feb 19, 2015

2 Quick & Easy Veggie Recipes Plus a Kitchen Tip

Remember me raving about Table 28?  I tried to recreate one of our favorite dishes: Brussel sprouts and bacon with pecans.  I started with this recipe but forgot to add the balsamic vinegar.  However, I remembered the pecans and then I added...wait for cheese.  Heaven, y'all.  Rush to the grocery store now and buy some sprouts and swine.  If you're not a fan of the blue cheese, don't use it but make this recipe.  If you're out of pecans, no worries, make this recipe.  Bacon and Sprouts will do you right.  Pinky swear.  EDIT: Add blue cheese and toasted pecans after roasting Brussel sprouts, just before serving.
Secondly, also the in cruciferous family, is roasted cabbage.  It is only recently that I have become a lover of roasted cabbage.  HB and I took a cooking class at 42 (restaurant at Clinton Library) and the chef quartered heads of cabbage, slathered them in pats of butter, wrapped it in foil then put it on the grill. Wow.  Delish and super easy.

In case you haven't been outside in a while, baby it's cold outside.  And I don't want to grill.

So I bring to you: Roasted Cabbage in a cast iron skillet.
Super easy and fast.

1.  Heat your skillet.  Get it HOT.  (medium high or high setting)
2. Quick chop your cabbage. (or do this ahead)
3. Plop some fat into the skillet, something that can withstand the heat.  Bacon grease is my preference for this dish.  Lard is good.  Ghee.  Coconut oil works too but it will taste coconutty if using unrefined coconut oil.
4.  Drop the cabbage in.
5.  Don't push it around.  Be patient.  Let it sear and get bits of brown crusties.  Use tongs to grab and flip.
6.  Season with sea salt.

I used about 3/4 a head of medium cabbage in this 12" square skillet.  It was probably too much cabbage and crowded the pan but I wanted to clean out the fridge (can I hear an amen from the mommas?)  Waste not want not.  My 2 year old ate the most and there was enough for Hubby to take for lunch today.

Lastly, my tip.  A 25ft roll of parchment paper is $1 at the Dollar Tree next to Michael's on Markham.  Parchment paper has changed my life.  It makes the difference with cookies, the edges are perfect.  Using parchment when you roast anything drastically reduces clean up time.


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Feb 15, 2015

Food in Fiji (yes -- I went!)

My husband had the great privilege of teaching a theology class in Fiji and I decided to tag along.  My saintly mother stayed with all three of our children.  

After traveling for 24 hours, we landed in a tropical paradise.  I wasn't sure what to expect of the food.  I assumed it would be fresh but that's about all.

I was totally blown away by the color of the egg yolks.  In almost every gas station, you could buy eggs and butter of the most magnificent color. 
One day I had a conversation with a Fijian woman about the color of the butter.  She had lived in California for almost a decade.  I asked her when she ate white butter in America, did she think something was wrong with it?  She said, "No, I assumed that Americans wanted it white so it would look prettier."

Wha?!  I told her the reason the Fijian butter had such beautiful yellow color was because of the lush green grass the cows ate.  Most American cows are eating hay and grain, a diet that will not produce vibrant colored butter.

While we did venture around the island, I didn't take many pictures of the landscape.  Because of the humidity my pictures were quite foggy.  Chickens were not allowed in city limits but we saw plenty (including cows) when we traveled out of the capitol.

Eggs and butter weren't the only thing that we gorged on.  We ate plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, like this pineapple (that cost about $0.75).  I took a picture of the way my friend had removed the eyes.  *I need to remember this.
One of the highlights of my time in Fiji was spending the morning with this friend who taught me to cook traditional Fijian fare.  I usually don't apologize for my camera phone pictures, but I will on this day.  The remaining pictures do not convey the culinary excellence nor the delightful tastes.
It was a real treat to be in another woman's kitchen, to watch how she does things.  It doesn't matter where I am, I like seeing how people move and work in their kitchen.  Inevitably I learn something.  Above, Viva is cutting up a whole chicken into 2 inch pieces for curry.  When eating in Fiji, you will find plenty of Indian inspired food.  (A little history: the British brought Indians to the island to provide leadership and oversight to the sugar plantations, where the Fijians worked as servants.)
A theme I noticed everywhere I went, but especially in Viva's kitchen, was nothing is wasted in Fiji.  The "extra" skin on the back of the chicken, she chopped very finely.  This fat was the first to hit the hot skillet and prepared the way for the remainder of the dish.

In Fiji, the only chicken option is a WHOLE chicken.  Or, a package of chicken feet or livers.  You won't find a package of chicken breasts in the meat department. As she chopped the chicken, (including the neck bone!) I told her the most popular part of chicken in America is the breast, boneless and skinless.  She looked at me like I was from Mars.  "Why would someone only want to eat the breast? And without the skin?"
While I watched her peel and prepare potatoes, onions and garlic, I could hear a "thwack --thwack" on the veranda.  I peeked out and found this young man breaking open mature coconuts.  He is sitting on a coconut scraper.  After pouring out the coconut water, he scraped the inside so that we could eventually make coconut milk.  He said he started scraping coconuts when he was about 10.  He tried to teach me to do it.  I felt unbelievably awkward.  I would need a few hundred coconuts to become proficient.
The natives drink coconut water from young (or green) coconuts.  Obviously I'm not a native but wanted to drink the old coconut water.  Just the day before I had been plagued by a intestinal bug.  Along with the insane heat and humidity, I was dehydrated and was a bit depleted in electrolytes.  My normally straight hair was almost curly while in Fiji from the humidity.
I'm sorry I don't have more pictures.  I was having such a fun time asking questions and learning from my new friends that I often forgot to take pictures of the different steps along the way on my cooking day.
The dish below is fried mackerel in coconut milk (Fijians called it lolo, or coconut cream) that Viva made.  I've made coconut milk before but it wasn't from fresh coconut.  Being an island country, coconuts and fresh fish are plentiful.  And delish.
Another dish she made was pumpkin with curry spices.  She diced pumpkin then fried/roasted it on the stovetop and added a plethora of spices.
This is the chicken curry with white potatoes.  I admit it doesn't look all that appetizing.  But it was so yummy.  Usually the Fijians eat with their hands.  They are not afraid of bones in their mouth (they pick them out).  Most main dishes (of fish and chicken) are made with bones.
The first dish she started and the last dish I tasted was Kokoda (kO' kwan da recipe here).  She diced mackerel then let it marinate for about 3 hours in lime juice and vinegar.  This acidic medium "cooked" the raw fish.  I watched it transform from raw, translucent fish into firm, white, "cooked" fish.  From my limited understanding, this dish is similar to the South American dish, ceviche.

I took the picture below before Viva added more coconut milk.  I had this dish several times while on the island.
It was the rainy season while we were there. Rain fell everyday we were on the island except the one day we got to go to the beach.  And I got the worst sunburn of my life.  Worth it.  Fiji is a beautiful country with beautiful people and delicious food.  I would love to go back.


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Feb 12, 2015

Kombucha Class

One of the most popular posts on this blog is How to Make Kombucha.  This fermented drink is rapidly gaining popularity.  If you like the taste, stop paying so much for it and start making your own!  It is very easy.  If you haven't tasted it, come learn what the hype is about.

On Saturday, February 21 at 10AM I will be teaching a class on this very topic at Fermentables in North Little Rock.  Class fee is only $10.  Fermentables is providing the supplies to get started as a part of the class fees.  This is a steal of a deal!  You will go home with knowledge to make kombucha as well as a gallon jar, flip top bottles and a starter.

Space is limited.  If interested, email and reserve your spot.

Positively populating gut flora in Little Rock,

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