Moroccan Ground Beef (or Lamb)

Moroccan Ground BeefWe have a ton of grass fed ground beef in our freezer from the 1/4 cow we purchased last year, so I’m always trying to come up with new, tasty ways to eat it all. Typically, ground beef gets turned into burgers/meatloaf/meatballs, and/or has tomato or cheese thrown at it. Tomatoes and cheese are currently off the menu for me, so increasingly I find myself looking towards cuisines that rely more on spices for flavor and zing. Moroccan cuisine, which makes good use of spices, is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

A quick search of “Moroccan beef” on the internet turned up this recipe for Moroccan Beef Stew. Sounds great, but I wanted to use ground beef instead of stew, so I tweaked it a bit and came up with what is definitely a winner for our family! This is great recipe to have on hand when you’re looking for a bit of variety with your ground beef. Quick and easy too!

I have to say though, as tasty as it is with ground beef, it is truly amazing with ground lamb. If you have some ground lamb on hand, then you have to make this!

By the way, the recipe that I based my one off also uses garbanzo beans (chickpeas), which is a great way to stretch the meat further if you are cooking for a large group. If you decide to add chickpeas you will need to add some broth during the cooking process, and possibly up the quantity of spices as well.

Moroccan Ground Beef (or Lamb)

1 tablespoon oil (butter/lard/coconut oil)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I use a mini-prep food processor)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef or bison or lamb
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped kalamata olives (about 10-12)
¼ cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon sea salt
Scant ¼ teaspoon black pepper
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or so.
2. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two.
3. Add beef and brown.
4. Mix in all of the spices plus the olives, raisins, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, simmering gently for about 10 minutes. Add a little stock or water if the mixture is getting too dry (depends on how fatty the meat is).
5. Stir in the lemon zest and chopped cilantro, and voila! …or whatever is the Moroccan equivalent :)

I served this over brown rice pasta, but rice would also be great of course, or serve it with vegetables if you’re not eating grains.

If you like Moroccan food, here are some more Moroccan-inspired recipes that you might enjoy:
Moroccan Chicken Casserole
Moroccan Lamb Stew

Linking to: Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul HopReal Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Keep it Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie FridayInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead Barnhop

 

Posted in Dinner, GAPS, Gluten Free, Grain Free | 13 Comments

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins (gluten-free)

Carrot Zucchini MuffinsMuffins are such a comfort food for me. I don’t eat them that often, but every so often I really REALLY feel like eating a muffin, and if I don’t have one on hand then I feel kinda bummed :(  You see, I just love a freshly warmed muffin, sliced in half with butter melting into it. So good!

When I first started eating gluten free I was making muffins out of almond flour. I liked them at first, but after a while I started feeling like the almond flour was too heavy for me. I dabbled a little in coconut flour, but I really didn’t like it and I felt very uncomfortable with the amount of fiber that coconut flour contains (if you’ve ever read Fiber Menace you will understand why too much fiber can be bad for you).

So……I’ve been experimenting with a mix of gluten free flours to find something that I think works well for muffins. I’ve kept some almond flour because I think it lends a nice firmness to the muffins and gives them structure, but I’ve also added some white rice flour, amaranth flour and arrowroot. I’m very happy with this gluten-free flour mix for muffins. I’ve made them many times now and they turn out great every time. They hold together well and have a nice light, springy texture without being too fluffy or dry and crumbly.

They also freeze really well. I make a batch of a dozen and freeze them in zip lock freezer bags. I gently lay them in the freezer to make sure they’re not squashing one another, and I squeeze all of the air out of the bag before I seal it. When I anticipate that I’m going to want a muffin, I pull one out and either let it defrost on the counter and then put it in the oven briefly to warm it through, or I turn the oven on low and defrost it in the oven. Either way, I like to eat them warm!

A note on the sweetness of these muffins: I only use 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of whole, unrefined sugar. This makes it plenty sweet enough for me, especially with the raisins, but I have a very low tolerance for sugar and try to minimize it as much as possible. If you feel you need to add a little more sugar then go for it….but try not to :)

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins

1 ½ cups almond flour
½ cup white rice flour
½ cup amaranth flour (or sometimes I use sorghum flour)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
4 tablespoons Sucanat or coconut palm sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt (less if you’re using salted butter)*
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup raisins
1 medium carrot, grated (about ¾ cup)
1 medium zucchini, grated (about 1 cup)
¼ cup oil, softened/melted (butter or palm shortening)
2 large or extra large eggs
1 ¼ cups milk of your choice (I prefer to use 50:50 coconut milk/water)

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Mix in the raisins, grated carrot and grated zucchini.
4. Add the oil, eggs and milk. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
5. Spoon mixture into greased muffin tins
6. Bake at 350F for 25-28 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins

*Note: I use palm shortening instead of butter (because I can’t have dairy at the moment), but palm shortening is unsalted. If you’re using salted butter then use less salt – maybe 1/4 teaspoon instead of 1/2 teaspoon.

Linking to: Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul HopReal Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Keep it Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Fresh Bites FridayFoodie FridayInspire Me Monday, Make Your Own Mondays, Homestead Barnhop, Meal Plan Monday

Posted in Baked Goods/Sweet Treats, Gluten Free, Snacks | 11 Comments

Introducing Baby Jacob!

The last quarter of 2012 was a whirlwind for us. At the beginning of October, after several false starts, we were finally matched with a birth mom. She lives in Ohio and was due to have a baby boy at the end of November. We started the adoption process at the beginning of the year, so we were so excited at the prospect of our new baby arriving soon!

On Halloween morning, our birth mom called me to say she had gone into labor. What?? That’s too early??? By early afternoon, our adoption agency was urging us to get to Ohio as quickly as possible because our birth mom had been admitted and was going to deliver. As in get on the next flight to Ohio. But…..it’s Halloween afternoon, we have two Halloween parties to go to, our nearly-3 year old is super-excited to be going to these parties and to wear her costume, and we live an hour and a half from the nearest airport!! Not to mention we live in California, and at such short notice there were no direct flights available to Ohio, so even if I was able to fly out that evening, I wouldn’t get to Ohio until the afternoon of the next day due to layovers and time difference.

So….we made the decision that I would get on a flight early the next morning, which would have me in Cleveland by late evening, and I would still be able to go straight to the hospital. We compromised and went to only one of the Halloween parties so that our daughter could still enjoy the fun, but it would give me the time I needed to pack my bags.

My flight landed in Cleveland around 10.30 pm. I picked up a rental car, drove to my hotel to check in, then drove to the hospital where I arrived at something like 12.30 am. There, I met our birth mom and our new baby boy for the very first time. Despite being early, he was healthy, a decent weight (6lb 3oz), and perfect in every way :) We named him Jacob.

I won’t go into all of the details, but our birth mom is a truly amazing and special person. It took such great strength and selflessness on her part to say goodbye to Jacob and hand him over to me when she was discharged from the hospital. She later said it was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. She didn’t have to do it, she could have still changed her mind at that point. Adoption is an uncertain business for all involved. The adoptive parents have to go on faith that the birth mom will go through with the placement. The birth mom has to go on faith that she has made the best decision for her baby and chosen the right family for him.

Thankfully, our birth mom was firm in her belief that this was the right thing for her and her baby. I think it also helped that we want to have an open adoption, meaning that we stay in contact with our birth mom via phone/text/email, and if she wants to send him cards and/or gifts on his birthday and at Christmas, then we welcome that.

Jacob is now two months old and doing really well. He is strong and healthy, eats well and sleeps well. He has a sweet, mellow temperament, a real easy-going little fellow (so far!)

Jacob’s big sister, Larissa, turned 3 on Jan 3rd. Larissa is also adopted, that is simply how  we were meant to build our family. Larissa is the most caring and loving big sister, we hardly had to deal with any jealousy. She simply loves having Jacob around!

Our family is now complete, and we are so happy and relived. The uncertainty is over, we have two amazing kids, and now we can get on with being a family!

Linking to: Inspire Me Monday,  Homestead Barnhop, Fat TuesdayHealthy 2day WednesdaysSimple Lives Thursday

Posted in That's Life! | 15 Comments

My Top 12 of 2012

I wanted to share my favorite dozen recipes from 2012. I was reading down the list of recipes that I have posted this year (64 of them!) and I started drooling at the memory of eating some of my favorites. Unfortunately some of my favorites are off the menu at the moment due to my food sensitivities, but hopefully that will be temporary. In the meantime at least I have the pictures to drool over :)

These are not necessarily the recipes that got the most views or comments, but they are my personal favorites, for one reason or another.

Ok, I confess…..there are actually 13 recipes in this line up if you were to count them (baker’s dozen, he he!) but I was really having trouble deciding which one to cut out.

Breakfast:

Raw Liver Smoothie. Ah yes, my somewhat controversial smoothie recipe. An excellent way to eat raw liver without tasting it in the slightest. But I understand that it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of smoothie :)

Potato and Egg Scramble w/ Chive Flowers. So tasty and fun with the pretty little chive flowers. Can’t wait until they’re back in season!

Multi-purpose Crepes/Wraps. I seriously make these ALL THE TIME! They are so versatile, I don’t know where I’d be without this recipe.

Lunch:

Ginger and Lime Chicken Salad. The flavors in this are so good – zesty and refreshing.

Salmon Salad Spread. Yum! I love this….but sadly salmon is one of the foods I can’t eat right now, so I have been making this salad using sardines instead of salmon. Still good, but not quite as good as salmon :(

Dinner:

Spaghetti Squash Bake. I love love LOVE this dish, and I know thanks to your comments that it has been very popular. Low carb and GAPS-friendly, but extremely satisfying and filling.

Moroccan Chicken. I love the favors in this dish. It’s really simple to prepare, but oh so tasty.

Italian Chicken and Sausage Casserole. This is a fantastic hearty dish for the colder weather we’re having right now. The chicken is cooked on the bone and becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender and falls off the bone. Yum!

Soup:

Carrot and Cardamom Soup w/ Coconut Milk. Hhmm, cardamom, I love thee so. Cardamom is a magical spice, and perfect in this soup.

Thai Beef Coconut Soup. I made this soup for dinner the other week and it was just as good as we remembered from the first time. The key to a soup like this is a good beef stock.

Mexican Hamburger Soup. Hearty, tasty, simple!

Dessert:

Double Chocolate Date and Almond Cookies. Hhmm….me like! But me can’t have right now :( Can you believe that I tested sensitive to caffeine?? Seriously?

Condiment:

Beet and Cabbage Kraut. My all-time favorite veggie ferment!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do. I look forward to sharing many more in 2013!

Happy New Year everyone!

Linking to: Monday Mania, Inspire Me MondayFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate ThursdaysSimple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursdays

Posted in Other | 2 Comments

Changing with the Times

Larissa at Mendocino, CA Sept 2012

I have taken a bit of a break from blogging over the last few months….not that I’ve stopped thinking about blogging (and about posts that I’d like to write) but I’ve been struggling to sit down and actually write a post. For a number of reasons I just needed to take a break. This year has been such a crazy whirlwind of a year for me. It’s definitely had it’s highs and lows, but fortunately the year is ending on a high for us, and I’m so happy with how everything has worked out.

I feel ready to start blogging more regularly now, but I want to do it a little differently this time. I initially set up this blog to focus on recipes, and only recipes. But the reality is that my life is about much more than just recipes, and for this blog to survive and thrive, it needs to be more closely aligned with my life.

Recipes are just one aspect of what it means to eat real food. I want to share what it’s like to be a real food girl (and mama!) trying to live in a fake food world. I want to talk about food sourcing and specifics about my local area (Sonoma County, California). I want to profile specific foods and talk about how and why I use them. Sometimes I may even touch on non-food related topics as I come across things that inspire me. And finally, I’d love to come up with a way to somehow blend my love of photography into this site.

Some of the things I want to post about soon are…..

I am 4.5 months in to my elimination diet which has removed all of the foods that I am sensitive to. I’m feeling better in so many ways, but I still have a way to go yet. Food sensitivity is a very important topic and can be a considerable barrier to good health, so I definitely want to talk about this in the new year.

Our family has grown! Yay for a new little baby!…. and bye bye to what little spare time I already had LOL! More details to come very soon :)

I also have a bunch of new recipes to share (of course!)

So that is where things are at….I apologize for the long silences over the past few months…..I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging, just not doing much of it :) But I hope that will start to change now……stay tuned!

Linking to: Inspire Me Monday, Homestead BarnhopHealthy 2day WednesdaysSimple Lives Thursday

Posted in That's Life! | 6 Comments

Turkey Burgers

Turkey BurgersOur family is small, and so our post-Thanksgiving turkey leftovers are huge! We cooked up a turkey that was nearly 12 pounds, pretty average as turkeys go I guess, but that sure is a lot of turkey for 2 adults and 1 small child (both of our families live overseas, so it’s just us at Thanksgiving!).

My husband loves eating cold turkey leftovers, but I don’t care for the bird that much. So I’m always trying to come up with new, more appetizing ways to use up all of that turkey meat. I have an idea for a new soup that I’m going to try soon, but in the meantime, these turkey burgers were pretty tasty! And the best part is that they’re grain-free!

If you have some leftover stuffing, I imagine it would be quite tasty to incorporate some of that into the burgers as well!

Turkey Burgers

2 cups cooked, diced turkey meat (I used a mixture of white and dark meat)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
Turkey stuffing (optional) note: haven’t tried this so not sure of quantity.

1. Add all ingredients into a food processor. Process until well-blended but stop while there is still texture (don’t let it turn into a puree!)
2. Heat oil in a pan. Form turkey mixture into patties and cook until golden on each side.

We didn’t eat these with buns, but I’m sure they would be good that way too. I had mine with a side of veggies and salad, and my husband had grilled cheese and salad. Yum yum!

Linking to: Monday Mania, Inspire Me MondayMake Your Own Mondays, Homestead BarnhopFat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent TuesdayReal Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day WednesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Keep it Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFreaky Friday, GAPS Friendly Fridays, Meal Plan Mondays

Posted in Dinner, GAPS, Gluten Free, Grain Free | 13 Comments

Chicken Curry w/ Grapes

Chicken Curry w/ GrapesThere’s something about fruit and curry that goes very well together! For me, the sweetness of the fruit helps to balance out the heat of the curry. Typically raisins, apples or some kind of fruit chutney are used in a fruity curry, but I prefer to use grapes – kind of like a cold chicken curry salad, only hot!

This is such an easy dish to make, quick and painless for a weekday dinner. No advance prep or long cooking times required. I prefer to use chicken thigh meat which I find more flavorful, but you could also use chicken breast meat but cook it for a shorter time.

If you wanted to get a little fancier, you could experiment with adding chopped celery and slithered almonds. I haven’t tried this yet but it could be tasty.

I usually choose red grapes for this dish because they offer a better contrast in color, but green grapes are equally tasty.

Chicken Curry With Grapes

1-2 tablespoons oil (butter/ghee/coconut oil)
1 ½ pounds chicken thigh meat (boneless, skinless), cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
4 teaspoon curry powder (or to taste)
¾ teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1 cup coconut milk
¾ cup red or green seedless grapes that have been sliced in half lengthwise

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for a couple minutes.
2. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
3. Add the chicken and lightly brown.
4. Add the curry powder and salt. Mix to coat the chicken evenly in the spices.
5. Stir in the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
6. Mix in the grape halves and simmer for a minute or two – just enough to warm the grapes (be careful not to overcook them otherwise they start to lose their flavor and become mushy)

Linking to: Fat Tuesday, Traditional TuesdaysSlightly Indulgent TuesdayReal Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Keep it Real Thursday, Pennywise Platter ThursdaysFight Back Friday, Freaky Friday, Fill Those Jars Friday, GAPS Friendly Fridays, Monday ManiaMake Your Own Mondays

Posted in Dinner, GAPS, Gluten Free | 13 Comments

Carrot Zucchini Soup

Carrot Zucchini SoupSo……things have been a little quiet here lately :( Quieter than I intended, that’s for sure. But I hope to start posting a bit more regularly again. Part of the problem is that I have been feeling so tired in the evenings (my usual time for blogging) that I haven’t been up to writing any posts. My body has been going through some major upheaval with the changes in my diet (to eliminate the foods I react to) and the associated die-off/detox that goes with it. I have also been sleeping so badly, dealing with the type of insomnia where you wake up in the middle of the night and simply cannot get back to sleep. Night….after night….after night. But that seems to be improving now, thank goodness!

Anyway, more on all of this to come once I get my head around how I want to write about it. In the meantime, I want to share this soup while the zucchini is still plentiful. My recipe is based on this Creamy Carrot-Zucchini Soup recipe, but I decided to skip the “creamy” part and I made a couple other minor tweaks to get the taste I wanted.

I only had dried herbs when I made this for the first time, but fresh basil and oregano would probably make it even better!

Carrot Zucchini Soup

2 tablespoons oil (e.g. butter/ghee/coconut oil)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4-5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt (to taste – I used about 1 teaspoon)
Pepper (to taste)
3-4 cups stock (I used chicken stock)
1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minute.
3. Add the chopped tomato, zucchini, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir it around for a minute or two.
4. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and simmer until vegetables are cooked – about 25-30 minutes (carrots can take a while).
5. Allow the soup to cool a little, then blend either using an immersion blender or by carefully pouring the soup, in batches, into a blender.
6. Taste the soup and add a little red wine vinegar to round out the taste if needed.

Linking to: Fat Tuesday, Traditional TuesdaysFull Plate Thursdays, Keep it Real Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursdays

Posted in GAPS, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Soup, Vegetarian | 13 Comments

Ham and Cheese Roll Ups

Ham and Cheese CrepesWhen I was a kid I was in love with anything that involved grilled or melted cheese. It was my ultimate comfort food! I especially associate this feeling with eating grilled or toasted cheese sandwiches and soup for lunch on a cold, rainy day. It is one of the things that I miss most about being gluten-free.

These ham and cheese roll ups are sort of like savory crepes, but rolled up! ….which is more fun :) They allow me to enjoy that same melted cheese satisfaction.

To make them, I use my gluten free crepes/tortillas (which I keep on hand in the freezer). I place one on my cast iron skillet on a low heat. I sprinkle a little grated cheese, then add my favorite toppings. In this case, I used ham and mushrooms. I would have also added pineapple if I’d had some. I let it cook until the cheese has melted, then I roll it up and slice it in half.

Ham and Cheese CrepesYum yum, tasty, easy and fun! They are very kid-friendly too, especially since these roll ups are easily customizable to each person. They can also be eaten as finger food, which also has kid-appeal.

If you’re not gluten free you could also use a regular flour tortilla, but they are thicker and might not roll up as nicely. Crepes might work better.

Ham and Cheese Roll Ups

Gluten-free crepes/tortillas
Cheese of your choice, grated (I used a goat cheddar since I can no longer have cow dairy)
Chopped ham (or turkey, chicken etc)
Other filling ideas: mushrooms, pineapple, tomato, peppers, spinach, chard

1. Place a tortilla on a cast iron or regular skillet, on a low heat.
2. Sprinkle a little grated cheese (cheese is important to help the filling bind together).
3. Add fillings of your choice.
4. Let it cook until the cheese has melted, then roll it up and slice it in half. I carefully roll it up while it’s still on the skillet, then transfer it to a plate or chopping board to cut it in half.

Linking to: Real Food Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Scratch Cookin’ TuesdayFreaky Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fill Those Jars Friday

Posted in Breakfast, Gluten Free, Lunch | 9 Comments

What’s going on at Easy Natural Food?

Hi Everyone,

I’m sorry, things have been a little quiet here lately. For a while now I have been trying to work out a way to get a bit of balance back in my life. Blogging is great, I love it, but it takes a lot of time and energy away from other areas of my life if I’m not careful. When things get out of kilter, I get stressed, and that’s how I’ve been feeling lately.

Because of this, I have made the decision to stop both of my carnivals (Summer Salad Sundays and Sunday Night Soup Night) for now. It was a very difficult decision for me, and one that I feel pretty upset about, but I know I needed to do it. I have enjoyed hosting these carnivals so much, and I love the little community that has built up around them. That has been the hardest part about letting go. Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of these carnivals – either by sharing your soup or salad recipes, or by simply stopping by to browse the line up each week :)

I will continue blogging, especially since I have a lot to share as I navigate my way through my newly discovered food sensitivities and other issues. However I will be posting a little less regularly, so the best way to get updates will be to subscribe via email, that way you’ll receive an email each time I post something new.

Coming up soon will be a couple new recipes, plus I’m working on a post about food sensitivities and how I discovered which foods I’ve been reacting too all of these years without realizing it. Stay tuned!

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Posted in Other | 7 Comments