Easy Natural Food

Healthy everyday meal ideas

Month: November 2011 (page 1 of 2)

Homemade Ghee


Homemade ghee….easy as 1, 2, 3! Well there are a couple more steps in between, but it’s really pretty simple, and so much cheaper than buying ghee in the supermarket. I’ve been making ghee for about 2 years now and would never go back to buying it.

Ghee (also known as clarified butter) is pure butter fat. It differs from butter because in the process of making ghee, all of the water and milk solids (milk proteins) are removed. The resulting ghee is a great cooking fat because it is highly saturated and therefore stable at high temperatures. Because all of the water and milk solids (milk proteins) have been removed it won’t burn like butter does if heated too high. It is also a great fat for people on the GAPS diet because it doesn’t contain any milk solids.

Making Ghee, Step by Step

To get the best nutritional value from ghee, use a good quality, unsalted butter from grassfed cows. I like to use Kerry Gold (the silver wrapper is unsalted). Unsalted is important otherwise the resulting concentrated butter fat will be extremely salty!

1. Cut the butter into small pieces. This time I only used 1/2 pound, but I usually make it with 1 pound of butter.

2. Put the chunks of butter into a pot and turn on to a low heat. Let the butter gently melt. As it melts it will start to hiss, spit and sizzle as the water boils off. Just make sure it’s on the lowest heat setting.

3. After a while a layer of foam will develop on top. Keep it going on a low heat.

4. As the ghee progresses, it will slowly separate into three layers:
1) The top layer of foam
2) The middle layer contains the liquid ghee
3) The bottom layer is where the milk solids will settle.
If you gently part the foam layer with a spoon, you can see the golden liquid ghee underneath, and you may start to see the milk solids settling on the bottom of the pot.

5. As it continues cooking, the foam will start to turn golden brown and there will be less of it. This is a sign that the ghee is nearly ready! Don’t walk away at this point, because it can start to burn quite quickly.

6. The ghee is ready when:
1) The foam on top has turned a light golden brown color.
2) The middle layer has developed a deep golden color and is transparent – you should be able to see the bottom of the pan. There may also be an aroma like fresh popcorn!
3) The solids have settled on the bottom of the pot and have turned a light brown color.
At this point, remove from the heat otherwise the ghee will burn.

From when the butter first starts foaming, it takes about 25-30 minutes (on a low heat) for the ghee to be ready.

7. Let the ghee cool down for 5-10 minutes, then strain it through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar. My method is to line a sieve with cheesecloth, and then pour the ghee into a funnel (otherwise I found the ghee was riding up over the egde and spilling onto the bench, but I guess that pouring slowly and carefully would also do the trick!)

8. Once it has finished straining, the milk solids will remain in the cheesecloth and can be discarded. Look at the beautiful golden color of the liquid ghee!

Ghee will last a long time because the water and milk solids that would otherwise turn the butter rancid have been removed. It may be stored at room temperature but I prefer to keep it in the fridge.

My instructions are based on instructions I found here.

Linking to: Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Whole New Mom, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead Barnhop @ The Prairie Homestead

 

Smoked Seafood Chowder

I’ve been making this chowder for the longest time, in fact I think it might be one of the very first soups that I ever learnt how to make! That just goes to show how easy it is! I first started making this soup while I was still living in New Zealand, over 10 years ago. In New Zealand you can get canned smoked fish which give this soup a wonderful smoky flavor. However in America the closest I’ve been able to get is smoked herring or kipper fillets in a can, which don’t give quite the same flavor but are still really good. If you can get hold of real smoked fish, that would be simply divine!

Caution butter/fat-phobes: this soup contains healthy doses of both!

Smoked Seafood Chowder

100 grams (3.5 oz) butter
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon flour (or substitute with arrowroot if gluten free)
1 cup fish stock
1 cup milk
1 cup sweetcorn
1 medium potato, diced into small cubes
2 tins smoked herring fillets (or equivalent amount of smoked fish)
2-3 cups mixed seafood of your choice (I usually use a small tin of salmon, some shrimp meat and bay scallops)
1/2 cup cream
Salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Melt butter in a large pot.
2. Add the onion and gently saute for 5 minutes.
3. Add the flour, fish stock and milk.
4. Add the corn, potato and all seafood.
5. Simmer until potato has softened (about 30-40 minutes).
6. Turn heat to low and stir in the cream. Season to taste, then serve.

Linking to: Sunday Night Soup Night!, Sunday School @ Butter Believer, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Whole New Mom, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Sunday Night Soup Night! 11/27/2011

Welcome to Sunday Night Soup Night! Last Sunday I made Smoked Seafood Chowder, and it was really good!

I hope those of you in America had a wonderful Thanksgiving! What yummy soups did everyone have as part of their Thanksgiving meal? Have all of those turkey carcasses make it into the stock pot yet? 🙂

Last week we had a great selection of soups, and so much variety! Each week I like to choose a selection of soups/stocks to highlight from the previous week’s Sunday Night Soup Night. Here are my pics from last week (which I also tweeted):

Butternut Squash Soup by Katie-Kate’s Kitchen
Creamy Coconut Lentil Soup by Delicious Obsessions
Chase Away Colds and Flu Broth by Whole Intentions
Hearty Turkey Vege Chili by The Nourishing Home

Sunday Night Soup Night is all about celebrating the goodness of wonderful homemade soups and stocks. Warm, tasty soup, made from homemade stock can be a complete and highly nourishing meal. And also an easy and convenient one!

So come join in the fun and share this celebration:
– Link up a recipe for homemade soup, stock/broth or chowder.
– Or you may have a post your wish to share about your tips/methods for making great soups and stocks, or information about the benefits of nourishing soups and bone broths.
– Or simply get inspired by checking out the links from other bloggers.
– If you see something that you like, leave a comment for that person on their blog and let them know you found them through Sunday Night Soup Night! It’s always great to get positive feedback 🙂

Before you link up, this is important:
No commercially canned or packaged soups, stock or bouillon please (soup made from homemade stock/bone broth is so much more nourishing than anything you can buy in the supermarket.) If you’re not sure how to make your own stock, here are a few great posts on stock-making that have been linked to this carnival (I will rotate the links each week to highlight different stock recipes):

Homemade Chicken Broth by Sue’s Kitchen Digest
Vegetarian Roasted Vegetable Broth by Life Currents
Garlicky Herbal Chicken Broth by Frugally Sustainable

Link up using the Linky tool below:
– Make sure you link the URL of your actual blog post and not your blog’s home page.
– Enter the title of your post instead of your name in the Name field!

Please provide a link back to Sunday Night Soup Night on your post.


Apricot Cashew Slice

A little while back I posted my Carob Nut Slice and I mentioned that I had other variations on my “no-bake nut slice” concept. Well let me introduce Apricot Cashew Slice!

I love making these nut slices and knowing that I have a tasty, healthy treat available when I feel like it. I also like that these slices are not baked, so you get all of the benefits of the raw ingredients, particularly the coconut oil.

The slice should be kept in the fridge to keep it hard and firm, otherwise the coconut oil which binds it will soften at room temperature.

Apricot Cashew Slice

1 cup crispy almonds*
1 cup roasted cashews
½ cup crispy sunflower seeds*
1 cup dried apricots (I prefer organic Turkish apricots), finely chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut oil, gently melted
¼ cup raw honey (liquid is easiest to work with)
Level ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Gently melt coconut oil in a pan over low heat.
2. Place almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds in food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pulverized.
3. Add apricots, shredded coconut, coconut oil, honey, salt and vanilla to the food processor and pulse until the mixture starts to clump.
4. Line a large shallow dish with parchment paper and spread the mixture about 1 cm thick.
5. Refrigerate for several hours until firm.
6. Slice into small squares and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

* Crispy nuts is a Nourishing Traditions cookbook concept, where it is recommended to soak nuts in warm, salted water for up to 24 hours (to help neutralize phytic acid), then to dry the nuts at a low temperature (I use my dehydrator) until they are completely “crispy”. I follow the same process with sunflower seeds.

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Sunday School @ Butter Believer, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager

Lamb and Vegetable Soup

This is another one of my everyday “comfort soups”. I make a big batch of this soup and then eat it for lunches. This soup is a bit different in that I don’t make the stock and the soup separately, instead I make it all in one.

Being from New Zealand, lamb has always been one of my favorite meats. I know it’s not as commonly eaten here in America, but it’s a really tasty meat and is great in soups and stews. I frequently buy New Zealand lamb since it’s readily available in most supermarkets (a taste of home!), but I also buy local lamb, and that’s really good too.

Lamb and Vegetable Soup

1 pound (approx.) meaty lamb bones (neck are my favorite, but arm or blade shoulder chops are also good)
Filtered water (1/2 gallon)
Light splash of vinegar (I use apple cider)
1 small piece kelp
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1-2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
1 large piece of pumpkin or squash, chopped
2-3 leaves swiss chard, rinsed and finely sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped (or 1 Tbsp. tomato paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt (about 1 teaspoon) and pepper to taste

1. Add meat bones, water, vinegar and kelp to a large pot. Simmer for about 2 hours.
2. Add all of the vegetables to the pot, along with the garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer until all vegetables are cooked and meat is falling off the bone (about another hour).
3. Remove the meat from the pot. Pull the meat off the bone and discard the bone (or save it for stock).
4. Using a potato masher, mash the vegetables in the pot until no large chunks are left.
5. Return the meat to the soup.
6. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.

Linking to: Sunday Night Soup Night!, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Make Your Own Mondays, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Whole New Mom

Sunday Night Soup Night! 11/20/2011

Welcome to Sunday Night Soup Night! A big thank you to everyone who shared a recipe last week, and to everyone who stopped by to get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about soup 🙂

Last week I said I would tweet my favorite soups recipes from the week before. It was tough….really REALLY tough to decide, but here are the three I tweeted:

White Bean Soup byTraditional Foods
Vidalia Onion Soup w/ Vermont Cheddar by Comfy Cuisine
Minestrone by Food Connections

Sunday Night Soup Night is all about celebrating the goodness of wonderful homemade soups and stocks. Warm, tasty soup, made from homemade stock can be a complete and highly nourishing meal. And also an easy and convenient one!

So come join in the fun and share this celebration:
– Link up a recipe for homemade soup, stock/broth or chowder.
– Or you may have a post your wish to share about your tips/methods for making great soups and stocks, or information about the benefits of nourishing soups and bone broths.
– Or simply get inspired by checking out the links from other bloggers.
– If you see something that you like, leave a comment for that person on their blog and let them know you found them through Sunday Night Soup Night! It’s always great to get positive feedback 🙂

Before you link up, this is important:
No commercially canned or packaged soups, stock or bouillon please (soup made from homemade stock/bone broth is so much more nourishing than anything you can buy in the supermarket.) If you’re not sure how to make your own stock, here are a few great posts on stock-making that have been linked to this carnival:
Nitty Gritty of Frugal Food Stock
Frugal Chicken Stock
Frugal Food Thursday Chicken Broth

Link up using the Linky tool below:
– Make sure you link the URL of your actual blog post and not your blog’s home page.
– Enter the title of your post instead of your name in the Name field!

Please provide a link back to Sunday Night Soup Night on your post.


Golden Squash Pancakes (gluten free)

The other day I thought I’d try making some squash pancakes, as a variation to the banana pancakes that I usually make. I had some cooked acorn squash left over from a squash that I’d roasted the day before, and I decided to see if it could be pancake-worthy. Yes, oh yes! In my humble opinion, and in that of my daughter – more pease, more more! (she can’t say the ‘l’ in “please” yet), these were good!

My banana pancakes are naturally sweet from the banana, whereas these squash ones don’t have much of a natural sweetness. Because of this, they pair really well with both sweet and savory flavors (bacon and maple syrup are perfect compliments here).

You could use whichever squash you prefer, but I like using acorn squash for this type of thing because the flavor is milder and not so “squashy”!!

I decided to call them golden squash pancakes because the squash and the yolks from the two eggs gives them a lovely golden color.

Golden Squash Pancakes (gluten free)

1/4 to 1/3 cup cooked squash (I used acorn)
2 tablespoons rice flour
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 large or extra large eggs

1. Using a whisk or blender, blend all ingredients into a smooth batter. Thin with a little milk or water if too thick.
2. Spoon mixture onto a hot oiled skillet.
3. When bubbles start to appear, flip the pancakes.
4. Gently fry pancakes on each side until golden brown.
Makes approx. 16-18 pancakes.

Linking to: Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s

Tacos on Rice

What do you do if you like the taste and food combinations that tacos provide, but don’t eat wheat, and don’t like corn tortillas? Throw everything on a bed of white rice, of course! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, but it was really tasty and very satisfying.

White rice is a “safe starch”, meaning that it doesn’t contain any of those nasty plant toxins or anti nutrients such as phytic acid. It is easy for most people to digest (although obviously its a no no on the GAPS diet). You don’t want to overdo it with the rice since it is high in carbs, but I find that with everything else on the plate, you only need a bit of rice to round out the meal.

Tacos on Rice

1 tablespoon oil (ghee/coconut oil)
1 pound grass fed ground beef
2 tablespoons salsa

Taco seasoning (I got this tasty seasoning recipe here):
1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
¼ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon Paprika
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Taco fillings/toppings:
Salsa
Shredded lettuce
Tomato
Grated cheese
Avocado
Sour cream or yogurt

1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat.
2. Add beef and lightly brown.
3. Add taco seasonings. Cook, stirring frequently, until beef is fully browned – about 5 minutes. Careful not to cook the beef too long after it’s browned otherwise it will dry out (add a little stock if necessary).
4. I like to stir in a couple spoonfuls of the salsa, and cook for another minute or so.
5. To serve, place some rice on each plate. Top with a serving of the beef, and garnish with taco toppings of your choice.

Tip: we only go through half a jar of salsa each time, so I freeze the remaining portion in its jar, and pull it out for next time. It freezes really well. Just remember to pull it out in time!

Linking to: Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Whole New Mom, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s

Sunday Night Soup Night! 11/13/2011

Welcome to Sunday Night Soup Night! A big thank you to everyone who has been linking up each week. I’m seeing so many mouth-watering soups which I’m bookmarking to try out for myself 🙂 I hope you are all finding inspiration as well! I’m finding many of you on Twitter, and following you there. I plan to start tweeting my favorite soup recipes from Sunday Night Soup Night each week, so if you’re on Twitter but I’m not currently following you, then let me know and I will.

Sunday Night Soup Night is all about celebrating the goodness of wonderful homemade soups and stocks. Warm, tasty soup, made from homemade stock can be a complete and highly nourishing meal. And also an easy and convenient one!

So come join in the fun and share this celebration:
– Link up a recipe for homemade soup, stock/broth or chowder.
– Or you may have a post your wish to share about your tips/methods for making great soups and stocks, or information about the benefits of nourishing soups and bone broths.
– Or simply get inspired by checking out the links from other bloggers.
– If you see something that you like, leave a comment for that person on their blog and let them know you found them through Sunday Night Soup Night! It’s always great to get positive feedback 🙂

Before you link up, this is important:
No commercially canned or packaged soups, stock or bouillon please (soup made from homemade stock/bone broth is so much more nourishing than anything you can buy in the supermarket.) If you’re not sure how to make your own stock, here are a few great posts on stock-making that have been linked to this carnival:
Nitty Gritty of Frugal Food Stock
Frugal Chicken Stock
Frugal Food Thursday Chicken Broth

Link up using the Linky tool below:
– Make sure you link the URL of your actual blog post and not your blog’s home page.
– Enter the title of your post instead of your name in the Name field!

Please provide a link back to Sunday Night Soup Night on your post.


Asian Dumpling Soup

This is a tasty Asian-style dumpling soup that my husband and I really enjoy eating. It is inspired by the Vietnamese “Pho” rice noodle soups that we always order when we eat at Vietnamese restaurants. A true Pho soup is based on a slow-simmered stock flavored with a variety of spices that give it a very distinctive flavor, whereas I just used my everyday chicken stock. However next time I plan to experiment with making a more authentic Pho stock first. But even so, it was really tasty!

The dumplings are simply meatballs based on this recipe. They are super tasty, I just love the combination of flavors in these meatballs.

This recipe is actually pretty simple, even though it may look like there’s lots of stuff involved. Just think of all that wonderful, nourishing stock that you’re getting in a bowl of this soup!

Asian Dumpling Soup

Soup base:
6 cups homemade chicken stock or beef stock
Sea salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Red chili flakes (to taste)
Thin rice noodles (I use Thai Kitchen)

Dumplings:
½ lb ground beef or pork (I used grass-fed ground beef)
6-8 large shrimp, peeled and finely chopped
1 egg
½ level teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce
6-8 shiitake mushrooms
2-3 scallions
Cilantro – about ¾ cup coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1-2 cloves garlic

Garnishes/Flavorings:
Extra chopped cilantro
Extra chopped scallions
Bean sprouts
Fish sauce
Soy sauce

1. Add the stock to a large pot and bring to a simmer
2. Add meat, chopped shrimp, egg, salt and fish sauce to a large bowl.
3. Put the mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, ginger and garlic into a food processor. Process until finely chopped, then add this mixture to the bowl with the meat. Using a spoon or by hand, mix all ingredients well.
4. Form into meatballs and drop into the simmering stock.
5. Simmer for about 10 minutes to cook the dumplings.
6. Add rice noodles (a small handful per person) and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes (or according to package directions).
7. Taste stock, and add salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste (do this after dumplings have cooked, because the dumplings impart flavor and saltiness to the broth while cooking).
8. To serve, ladle soup into each bowl (large soup bowls work best), ensuring each bowl gets a helping of dumplings and rice noodles.
9. Place garnishes on the table and let each person add garnishes/flavorings to suit their tastes.

serves 2-3 people as a main meal

Linking to: Sunday Night Soup Night!, Sunday School @ Butter Believer, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Make Your Own Mondays, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Whole New Mom, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys

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