Easy Natural Food

Healthy everyday meal ideas

Month: January 2012 (page 1 of 2)

The Mighty Tasty Grapefruit

Have you ever eaten a grapefruit? Just a grapefruit and nothing else? No added sugar, no spices or other toppings, not baked or grilled, not in a fruit salad?

One of the things I look forward to this time of year is grapefruit. A grapefruit that is ripe, sweet, juicy and bursting with flavor is heavenly! Grapefruits are in peak season over the winter months and are grown in Florida and Texas, and to a lesser extent in Arizona and California. The variety of grapefruit available in my local store is the Rio Star from Texas. The flavor is exquisite, and they’re already so sweet that it would be sinful to add even a grain of sugar.

In fact, did you know that the Latin name for grapefruit is Citrus paradisi? Yes, eating a grapefruit is like being in paradise 🙂

Grapefruits are so good you! They are an excellent source of vitamin C, and the red flesh varieties are a good source of vitamin A and lycopene (tomatoes are another good source of lycopene). Grapefruits are also packed with a wide variety of different antioxidants which offer protective effects against various tumors and cancers. (Source: World’s Healthiest Foods)

Grapefruit for Breakfast (or simply a snack!)

My favorite way to eat a grapefruit is to simply cut one in half and use a sharp knife to slice around the edge and slice between each segment. Then I scoop out the segments with spoon. This makes the perfect breakfast alongside some of my Chicken and Apple Breakfast Sausages.

Fresh grapefruit juice would also be wonderful at breakfast, but I prefer to eat the whole fruit to get the benefit of the fiber which helps reduce any potential blood sugar spike from drinking pure juice.

Grapefruit Salad Recipes

If you want to try something a little more fancy, here are some tasty-looking salad recipes that use grapefruit which I plan to try.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/avocado-and-grapefruit-salad-recipe/index.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/grapefruit-onion-and-basil-salad-recipe/index.html

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/shrimp-avocado-grapefruit-salad-50400000117882/

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/spinach_grapefruit_salad.html

So if you haven’t eaten any grapefruit yet this winter, go out and buy some now! They are so delicious, and very good for you too 🙂

Caution: There are certain compounds in grapefruit and grapefruit juice that can interact with pharmaceutical drugs and make their effects more potent. If you are taking any drugs, check with your health practitioner first.

Linking to: Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Whole Food Wednesday @ Beyond the Peel, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Freaky Friday @ Real Food Freaks, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Friday Food Flicks @ Traditional Foods

 

 

Chicken and Corn Chowder


I had some chicken leftover from one that we had roasted, and I felt like making a creamy chicken and corn chowder after being inspired by a similar soup here.

This is rich, creamy comfort food at it’s finest! A completely decadent sort of soup that I couldn’t eat very often, but it’s lovely to have once in a while.

I was having a bit of fun playing around with topping ideas with this soup. Toppings on soup is not something that I’d ever thought of, but I’ve seen it quite a few times now and I think its a really fun idea – especially if you provide bowls of several different topping options on the table and let each family member add the toppings of their choice. Kind of like customizing your soup!

Chicken and Corn Chowder

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 slices bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ (approx) cups diced red potatoes – ½ inch dice
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup corn (I used frozen)
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups (approx.) cooked chicken – shredded or diced
¼ cup cream
Grated cheese (optional)
2-3 green onions, sliced (optional)

1. Heat butter in a large pot. Add the strips of bacon and cook for a minute or two.
2. Add onions and sauté until golden.
3. Remove the bacon and set aside. If the bacon is not crispy enough to your liking, use a separate pan to crisp it up a little.
4. Add the garlic, diced potato and celery to your soup pot. Saute for a minute or two.
5. Add the chicken stock, milk, corn, thyme, salt and pepper.
6. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potato is almost done.
7. Add the chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes.
8. Stir in the cream. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.
9. To serve, ladle the chowder into bowls. Chop up the bacon and sprinkle some in each bowl, along with some grated cheese and chopped green onions.

Linking to: Sunday Night Soup Night!, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Barnhop @ The Prairie Homestead, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Whole Food Wednesday @ Beyond the Peel, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Freaky Friday @ Real Food Freaks, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Friday Food Flicks @ Traditional Foods

Sunday Night Soup Night! 1/29/2012

Welcome to Sunday Night Soup Night! I’m a little late in finding out that January is National Soup Month in America! Beyond this fact I could find very little information, so I’m guessing the best way to celebrate is to make and eat lots of soup! Just as well that’s what we’ve been doing all month anyway 🙂

Thanks for the fantastic variety of soups last week! It has given me a ton of ideas for future creations. To give you a sample, here are my three top picks from last week. I hope you’ll take the time to check them out:

Kombu Dashi and Miso Soup by Three Squares


I love miso soup, but I particularly like the instructions on how to make Kombu Dashi (Japanese Fish Stock) which forms the base of this tasty soup.

Carrot Ginger Soup by Beyond the Peel


The combination of spices is what made this soup stand out for me. It looks so tasty!

Goodness Green-ness Soup by Dishes and Dishes


I’m permanently guilty of not eating enough greens, but this soup looks like a tasty way to eat them.

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 🙂

Carnival Guidelines:
1) Please, no bouillon or commercial stock/broth! 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):

A Good Soup Stock by Food Farm Health
Chicken Stock by Craving Fresh
Wonders of Homemade Chicken Stock by Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish

2) Whole, unprocessed foods only please! Low-fat milk, bad fats such as margarine and other processed vegetable oils, soy products (other than traditionally fermented soy foods such as soy sauce, tempeh, miso etc) are not ok. Minimally processed canned foods such as tomatoes, coconut milk, pumpkin, etc are ok.

I’m looking for soups that embrace real food principles and traditional food techniques such as homemade stock. Soups that will nourish, heal, and keep you in good health 🙂

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

4) 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


Quick and Easy Breakfast Rice Pudding


I like white rice. No excuses, no explanations, I just do and always have 🙂 However I’m careful not to overindulge, since white rice is a refined carbohydrate, which means that eating too much can affect the stability of your blood sugar. The other reason not to eat too much is that white rice offers very little in the way of nutrition other than carbs. It is, however, so much easier for me to digest than brown rice, and I can pretty much guarantee that I’m getting better nutrition from a meal I can digest, than from one that I can’t.

So where am I going with all of this? Occasionally……I have a hankering for a rice pudding-type of breakfast. It’s a comfort food thing. But I like to beef it up with all sorts of goodies to make it more nutritious, while minimizing blood sugar spikes. I minimize the blood sugar impact by loading it with healthy fats, and by using mainly fruit to sweeten it, and I prefer it only barely sweet anyway.

I keep cooked white rice on hand in the fridge almost always, so its quick and easy in the morning to throw some in a pot and heat it up with some chicken stock and coconut milk, and add whatever else I feel like throwing in for flavor/nutrition. This cooks up so creamy and delicious thanks to the coconut milk!

Coconut Milk Rice Porridge

Serving for one:
½ cup cooked white (or brown) rice
2-3 tablespoons chicken stock*
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ apple, diced small
Raisins – small handful
Cinnamon – a sprinkle
Knob of butter or coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
Honey or maple syrup (to taste) OR (update) this is heavenly with a couple drops of vanilla creme stevia

Other toppings/additions, depending on what you have on hand:
Chopped crispy nuts
Crispy sunflower seeds
Ground chia seeds
Dried fruit such as chopped apricots or dates
Cream (preferably raw)

1. Add the rice, stock, coconut milk, apple, raisins, butter and salt into a pot.
2. Simmer until the apple is cooked (about 8-10 mins), stirring frequently.
3. Serve with smidge of honey/maple syrup and raw cream

*Note: adding the chicken stock is simply to provide a bit of extra liquid to help soften the rice if it has become a bit dry in the fridge. You could add a little water instead, but I like using chicken stock for the extra nutrition and it doesn’t affect the taste.

Linking to: Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Freaky Friday @ Real Food Freaks, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Friday Food Flicks @ Traditional Foods

Split Pea and Ham Soup

Split Pea and Ham Soup
I love split pea and ham soup! There is something so hearty and meaty tasting about split peas, even though they’re a legume. They also cook up so smooth and creamy. Hhhmmmm……

We cooked a ham for Christmas, so I purposefully saved the bone in the freezer until I was ready to make this soup. I think the hambone also contributes to the delicious meaty flavor of this soup. However my hambone wasn’t very meaty, so I added some of the cooked ham that we’d saved for lunches. But if you don’t have any ham I doubt it would affect the taste much, it would just have a bit less protein. But if you’re making your soup with a meat-stock base (I used chicken stock), then the stock helps to stretch the protein that is in the soup from the split peas and the hambone, because the stock helps your body to absorb and utilize the available protein more efficiently.

Split peas are also about the only legume that I seem to tolerate. I prepare them by soaking them overnight in warm water. Then just before I start making the soup I drain and rinse them in a colander. I cook the split peas with a strip of kombu (kelp) because the amino acids in the kelp help to soften beans/legumes and make them more digestible, plus the kelp adds valuable vitamins and minerals.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

1 pound yellow split peas* (soaked overnight in warm water, then rinsed)
6 cups stock/water (I used 3 cups homemade chicken stock, 3 cups water)
1 ham bone
1 onion, diced
1 small strip of kombu/kelp
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium large carrot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
1 cup diced cooked ham (optional)

1. Place split peas, ham bone and stock/water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum that floats to the surface.
2. Reduce to a simmer. Add the onion, kelp, bay leaf and garlic.
3. Gently simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Stir periodically to prevent the split peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
4. Add the carrot, celery, salt and pepper. Simmer for another 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the peas are completely mushy and soft. Add a bit more water/stock if needed, but careful not to make the soup too runny.
5. Remove the bayleaf (no need to remove the kelp because it will have disintegrated into the soup) and puree the soup (I use an immersion blender). Be careful of hot splashes!
6. Add the butter and ham pieces and simmer for 5 minutes to heat the ham through. I add butter because otherwise this soup has very little fat in it.
7. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.

*Note: You could also use green split peas, but I prefer yellow – I think they have a slightly sweeter, nuttier taste. Soak the split peas overnight in a bowl of warm water (make sure the split peas are covered by a couple inches of water). Drain and rinse before cooking.

For another soup featuring these beautiful yellow split peas, here is my Split Pea and Spinach Soup.

Linking to: Sunday Night Soup Night!,  Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Barnhop @ The Prairie Homestead, Make Your Own Mondays, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Friday Food Flicks @ Traditional Foods, Freaky Friday @ Real Food Freaks, Make Ahead Monday

Sunday Night Soup Night! 1/22/2012

Welcome to Sunday Night Soup Night! Pictures, we need pictures! That is what I decided a few weeks ago when I realized that the beautiful pictures of your soups aren’t being viewed unless someone clicks through to your blog post. Then I realized that people would be much more likely to click through and check out your soup if there is a picture to entice them! So I finally decided to fork out the $2/month to get the thumbnail option on the linky tool. This means that when you link up, you will now be prompted to select an image. 

Last week was one of those weeks where there were so many great soups that I couldn’t make up my mind! So I chose 4 soups instead of the usual 3 to highlight and tweet about. Here they are, I hope you’ll take the time to check them out:

Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup by Peanut Butter, Passports and Epinephrine

Moroccan Ham, Lentil and Chickpea Stew by Sumptuous Spoonfuls

Mexican Vermicelli Soup with Chicken and Vegetables by Mexico in My Kitchen

Sunday Night Split Pea Soup by Lil' Suburban Homestead


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 🙂

Carnival Guidelines:
1) Please, no bouillon or commercial stock/broth! 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):

A Good Soup Stock by Food Farm Health
Chicken Stock by Craving Fresh
Wonders of Homemade Chicken Stock by Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish

2) Whole, unprocessed foods only please! Low-fat milk, bad fats such as margarine and other processed vegetable oils, soy products (other than traditionally fermented soy foods such as soy sauce, tempeh, miso etc) are not ok. Minimally processed canned foods such as tomatoes, coconut milk, pumpkin, etc are ok.

I’m looking for soups that embrace real food principles and traditional food techniques such as homemade stock. Soups that will nourish, heal, and keep you in good health 🙂

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

4) 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


Spaghetti Squash Bake


This is a recipe that I came up with when I was on the GAPS diet for digestive issues. The GAPS diet does not allow any grains, or any starchy root vegetables such as potato or sweet potato. However winter squash is allowed, so I found myself experimenting with all different types of winter squash that previously I would have barely glanced at.

One of these was the spaghetti squash. I simply could not fathom how a squash could cook up all spaghetti-like, so I just had to try it for myself! I looked up online how to cook it, I baked it in the oven, and then lo and behold, the cooked squash scrapes out looking just like spaghetti! I have photos to prove it, and will show it as part of another post real soon, promise 🙂

So armed with my spaghetti-like noodles, I came up with this recipe which is similar to a lasagne in its ingredients, but with spaghetti squash mixed in, instead of lasagne noodles. It’s super tasty, and I continue to make it even though I’m no longer on GAPS. It’s also a great low-carb recipe.

If you cook the spaghetti squash earlier in the day or the day before, this dish is very quick and easy to throw together for dinner. Otherwise, allow enough time in your dinner prep to bake the spaghetti squash first.

Spaghetti Squash Bake

1 spaghetti squash (medium size)
1 tablespoons oil (butter/ghee/lard etc)
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef or bison
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 green or red pepper, diced
4-5 button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Grated cheese for topping

1. Heat oven to 350F.
2. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place both halves cut side down in a baking dish in a half inch of water. Bake squash for 40-50 minutes, until the skin can be easily pierced with a knife.
3. Remove from oven and allow squash to cool a bit, then use a fork to remove the flesh. Place in a colander to drain.
4. Heat oil in a large pan and saute the onion until golden.
5. Add the celery and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.
6. Add the beef and lightly brown, stirring frequently.
7. Add the tomatoes, pepper, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and all of the herbs/spices. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the liquid reduces.
8. Stir in the parmesan. Taste, and adjust seasonings if required.
9. Turn off the heat and mix about 2 cups of the spaghetti squash into the pan.
10. Pour the meat/spaghetti squash mixture into an oven-proof lasagne or casserole dish.
11. Spread about another cup of the remaining spaghetti squash over the top of the meat and sprinkle with grated cheese.
13. Bake in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble.
14. Remove from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes. Serve sprinkled with some extra parmesan cheese (optional)

Linking to: Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Freaky Friday @ Real Food Freaks, Friday Food Flicks @ Traditional Foods, Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Barnhop @ The Prairie Homestead, Make Your Own Mondays, Real Food 101 @ Ruth’s Real Food, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Grateful GAPS Holiday Food

Tutorial: Homemade Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut tutorialAs I mentioned in my previous post, I was determined to learn how to make my own sauerkraut, but it took me a while (and a lot of excuses!) to get my courage up to try it. I had my share of flops and failures, but I finally got the hang of it, and now I confidently make sauerkraut and other vege ferments on a regular basis.

Everyone who makes their own vege ferments always says “oh, its so easy!”  For me it  was one of those things that I had to “get the hang of”. Now that I’ve got the hang of it, it is easy! But I had to learn a few tricks along the way. Here’s how I’ve learned to make my sauerkraut.



Making Sauerkraut, Step by Step

1 medium/large cabbage (green or red)
3 teaspoons fine-ground sea salt
1/4 cup whey
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
1-2 teaspoons Caraway seeds (optional)

1. Gather your ingredients. At a minimum, sauerkraut requires cabbage and salt. I also like to add caraway seeds and a clove or two of garlic. I like the caraway seeds for the flavor they provide, and the garlic for its many healing properties and health benefits.

I also use whey (not shown in the photo). The purpose of the whey is to act as a starter culture for the fermentation process, as it contains the lactic acid-producing bacteria. I make whey by letting plain yogurt (with live bacteria) drip through cheesecloth and collect the liquid whey as it drips into a bowl. Whey can also be made from kefir or raw milk. Here is a post on How to Make Whey from Cheeseslave if you’re interested.

Sauerkraut tutorialNOTE: Whey isn’t essential for making sauerkraut, but I feel like it helps to ensure a successful fermentation. Traditionally just salt was used. The salt works by inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria, thereby allowing the friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria (lactobacilli) to thrive. The lactobacilli are naturally present on the surface of all vegetables, so why use whey? Whey is rich in lactobacilli, thereby providing an extra boost of the good guys and allowing less salt to be used.

2. Gather your equipment. You’ll need a clean cutting board, a good cutting knife, and a clean LARGE glass bowl for mixing the shredded cabbage in, or sometimes I’ll use my stainless steel stock pot.

You’ll also need a clean wide mouth glass jar with a lid to ferment the cabbage in. The quart-size mason jars work well although you’ll need a couple of them for 1 large cabbage.

3. Chop up your cabbage. I first remove any wilted, soft leaves that maybe on the outside of my cabbage. I peel them off until I reach the first layer of firm, crisp leaves. Using a sharp knife, I cut my cabbage in half down the center, then I cut each half in half i.e. my cabbage is now in quarters. The photo below shows two quarters. I then cut out the core fom each quarter.

Sauerkraut tutorial At this point you could use the shredding/grating blade of your food processor to shred the cabbage, but I honestly find it easier and quicker (less clean up) to shred it by hand. I slice each quarter lengthwise into thin strips, no more than 1/4 inch thickness. Then I like to slice once down the center so that my strips of cabbage aren’t too long.

Sauerkraut tutorial4. Add Salt. As my cutting board fills up with shredded cabbage, I toss the cabbage into the glass bowl and sprinkle it with some of the salt and caraway seeds.

I continue to layer cabbage and salt in this way until all of the cabbage has been cut up. Then I sprinkle the chopped garlic, and any remaining salt and caraway seeds over the cabbage.

NOTE: Three teaspoons of salt is what I’ve found works best for a medium/large cabbage. If my cabbage is really large or really small then I’ll adjust the salt accordingly. If I’m not using whey then I’ll use a bit more salt.

Once all of the cabbage has been chopped up it will look something like this:

Sauerkraut tutorial5. Scrunch the cabbage. At this point, I like to wash my hands, roll up my sleeves, and start scrunching the cabbage using my hands, over and over again, to release the juices and mix in the salt. I probably do this for about 5-10 minutes, and once I’ve finished it looks like this:
Sauerkraut tutorialWow, where did it all go? 🙂  If I’ve done enough scrunching, I’ll have at least 1/4 cup or more of juice in the bottom if my bowl (tip it on an angle and see how much collects).

6. Pack the cabbage into the fermenting jar.  Scoop up the cabbage and start packing it into your jar. Pack it down tightly so that the juices start to rise up above the level of the cabbage. I pack down the cabbage using my wooden spoon, but a pounder or meat hammer would probably be more effective.

Now for the whey. I add the whey bit by bit. I probably pack in a third of the cabbage, pour in a third of the whey, pack another third of cabbage, pour in another third of whey etc. This isn’t a scientific formula, its just how I do it 🙂

When all cabbage has been packed into the jar, and the whey has been added, check whether the juice is covering the cabbage. Press down on the cabbage and see how far the level of the juice rises. If there is less than an inch of juice covering the cabbage, then mix up some brine. This is simply 1 cup of filtered water and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Mix until the salt dissolves, then pour it over your cabbage until the cabbage is covered by an inch of brine when firmly packed.

Sauerkraut tutorial7. Apply a weight. How to keep the cabbage weighed down? This was always the tricky part for me. The best way I found is to use a glass jar, bottle or drinking glass that snugly fits inside the mouth of the jar that contains the cabbage. Make sure it is clean! As you can see from the picture below, I have a drinking glass that works perfectly. But I have also used glass jars filled with water or dried beans to make them weighty.

You can see in the picture below that once I placed my weight on top, the cabbage is covered with a good inch of juices. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process, which means it won’t work in the presence of oxygen. If your cabbage is completely covered by the brine, then oxygen can’t reach it. Sometimes a bit of cabbage floats to the surface, but this has never caused me any problems.

Important: make sure there is at least an inch of space between the level of the brine and the top of the jar, because the brine level will rise a bit more as the salt continues to draw the juice out of the cabbage.

Sauerkraut tutorial8. Cover and leave it to ferment. I cover the fermenting jar with a light tea towel and leave it at room temperature for a week.

Room temperature is considered to be around 68-72 degrees. Anything significantly cooler is ok, it just means that a longer fermentation time will be required. A room that is consistenly over 75 degrees is too warm in my experience, and that’s when I start to get mold. I can’t ferment sauerkraut in my kitchen in summer. Instead I must find the coolest place in the house, which happens to be the floor of the coat cupboard!

9. How do you know if it’s working? This is the fun part – I like to spy on my sauerkraut! After a couple days I take a peek under the tea towel. If all is well, the cabbage will still be completely submerged in the brine. In fact the brine level should have risen slightly. The brine may be starting to look a little bubbly/foamy.

After 4-5 days, if I open the cupboard door and get a strong whiff of something sharp and tangy, then I know that the good bacteria have won the war, and my cabbage is well on its way to becoming sauerkraut!

10. Store it in the fridge. After a week (or longer if its cooler), I retrieve my sauerkraut from wherever it’s been fermenting. I remove whatever I used to weigh it down, and I take a look at it. Does it look ok? (no slime, no mold*). Does it smell good? (no off smells, and smells fresh and tangy). If it looks and smells ok, then I taste it. It should taste kind of tangy, sour, crunchy, salty. If everything is ok, then I have a successful ferment! I put on the lid on the jar and store the sauerkraut in the fridge.

I find that initially the sauerkraut tastes more salty than sour, but it will mature over time with the saltiness becoming less pronounced. I try to make more sauerkraut well before I run out of my current batch so that it can have a week or so in the fridge to mature before I want to eat it.

*Once or twice I got a small amount of mold around the top, but the sauerkraut itself wasn’t moldy, and it smelt and tasted good, so I ate it and didn’t have any problems.

If you’ve never tried making your own sauerkraut before, give it a go! It is a great traditional food technique to master, and there really is no limit to the variety of vegetable ferments that you can create once you’ve got the hang of the basic process. For more information, this is a great article from Wild Fermentation.

Linking to: Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays @ Cooking Traditional Foods, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet, Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade, Freaky Friday @ Real Food Freaks, Friday Food Flicks @ Traditional FoodsHomestead Barnhop @ The Prairie Homestead

Spiced Broccoli and Coconut Milk Soup

Before Christmas, while out Christmas shopping, we ate dinner at a local cafe. We hardly ever eat out, but the East West Cafe in Sebastopol, CA serves pretty good food if you happen to find yourself in town. The soup of the day was Broccoli something-or-other, and it was delicious! I was quizzing the waitress about what was in it, so that I could try to recreate it. All she could tell me was that it was vegan, featured broccoli and coconut milk, it had potato in it, and spices which she thought might be curry. To me it tasted more subtle than curry, but I decided to start with curry powder.

Well I don’t think it was curry powder. Tried that, and it definitely didn’t taste right. But there definitely seemed to be an Indian flavor to the spices. For take 2 of this soup, fresh grated ginger and ground coriander felt like the right starting point, plus some cumin.

This time I think I hit the nail more or less on the head! The result is a tasty yet subtly-spiced soup that is very warming and satisfying. The only thing I might tinker with next time would be to add a pinch of nutmeg, but this soup is delicious as is and oh so good for you! Broccoli is a super-vegetable after all!

Spiced Broccoli and Coconut Milk Soup

2 tablespoons oil (ghee/coconut oil)
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Red chili flakes (to taste)
4 cups (approx.) chopped broccoli (about 2 large broccoli heads)
2 small/medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large celery stalk, sliced
2 ½ – 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want it)
½ – ¾ teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
1 cup coconut milk

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot.
2. Add onions, sauté for 10 minutes or so.
3. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and red chili flakes. Stir for a couple of minutes until the spices become fragrant.
4. Add the broccoli, potatoes and celery. Mix the vegetables in with the spices.
5. Add the stock, salt and pepper.  Simmer until all vegetables are cooked (about 25-30 minutes).
6. Remove from the heat. Blend (I use an immersion blender) until smooth, taking care if the soup is still very hot.
7. Stir in the coconut milk, then serve with a dash of yogurt (yum!).

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 @ Cooking Traditional Foods, Real Food Wednesdays @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy 2day Wednesdays @ day2dayjoys, Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen’s, Pennywise Platter Thursdays @ Nourishing Gourmet

 

Sunday Night Soup Night! 1/15/2012

Welcome to Sunday Night Soup Night! Today has been a very busy day. We had my daughter’s 2nd birthday party with kids and their parents. It was a great success, but rather hectic, and now I’ve just realized that I forgot to take a picture of my soup! Ooops! So I’ll post my soup anyway, and take the picture tomorrow when I have leftovers for lunch. I’m suffering from a bad case of kiddie party brain! 🙂

There were so many delicious soups shared on this carnival last Sunday, thanks everyone! Here are my top three pics from last week that I chose to highlight and tweet about. I hope you’ll take the time to check them out:

Butternut Squash Chili by Healthy Journey Cafe

Porcini/Cremini Mushroom Beef Barley Stew by Comfy Cuisine

Winter Minestrone by Whole Foods on a Budget


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 🙂

Carnival Guidelines:
1) Please, no bouillon or commercial stock/broth! 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 Broth for Savings & Good Health by Lil’ Suburban Homestead
Shrimp Head Stew and Shrimp Broth by Real Food Freaks
Homemade Chicken Stock by Maple Hill 101

2) Whole, unprocessed foods only please! Low-fat milk, bad fats such as margarine and other processed vegetable oils, soy products (other than traditionally fermented soy foods such as soy sauce, tempeh, miso etc) are not ok. Minimally processed canned foods such as tomatoes, coconut milk, pumpkin, etc are ok.

I’m looking for soups that embrace real food principles and traditional food techniques such as homemade stock. Soups that will nourish, heal, and keep you in good health 🙂

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

4) 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


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