Kombucha Brew Master

Well maybe not so much a master as a beginner but I have begun the home brew adventure. I recently started to research the importance of establishing healthy gut flora and Kombucha is one of the best ways to do it. I wanted to jump right in and start drinking it everyday but my little family can not afford to spend $5 on a drink that you need to drink everyday to make a difference. So me being the “I can do it myself” crazy person that I am started researching, and to my surprise found that it is very easy to do yourself and very inexpensive. So I bought my SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) from this wonderful website and this book so I wouldn’t screw up.

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I got my SCOBY in the mail and started the brew the next day, I am 4 days in and I will have to admit the stuff smells…not good and I have to try it tomorrow to see how the ferment is going. Wish me luck and I will get back to you on how it goes. I will also include some detailed instructions on how I made it, IF I didn’t mess it up. Until tomorrow. Oh and also SCOBY’s are pretty weird, so if you want to jump on the home brew boat be prepared, they are pretty much like giant slimy aliens.

Mini Burgers with Butternut Squash Fries

Tonight I tried another recipe from “Primal Cravings” and I screwed it up. I tried to make Chicken Enchilada Empanadas and I accidentally used potato starch instead of potato flour… and they are not interchangeable. It wasn’t all bad. I ended up making a kind of Enchilada pot pie and it was actually really good. The dough that was created also made a good primal tortilla. I’m going to play around with it and hopefully I will have something good for you next week.

In the mean time I will share with you our Sunday night tradition of Mini Burgers. Sometimes we have sweet potato fries and sometimes I switch it up. We got a Butternut Squash in our CSA, so I figured why not turn it into fries?

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Bread Recipe: (Courtesy of Paleo Bread by John Chatham)

Country White Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 1 C blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 C arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 2 Tbs safflower oil
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a standard loaf pan with cooking oil and set aside.

In a medium bowl stir together all of the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, using and electric mixer or in a stand up mixer. Beat the eggs until frothy, this step will take about 5 minutes with your mixer on high and the eggs should look like this

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Once you have achieved this add in your wet ingredients and stir them to combine. Make sure the honey is really incorporated or else it will burn.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined. The less you mess with it the better, you want the eggs to stay frothy. Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Let the bread cool while you prepare the burgers.

Burger Patties:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients and work the seasoning into the beef. Next form all of your patties. This is how I do it.

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I roll the ground beef into a small ball and smash it into this metal cutter.

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Cook the burgers on an oiled skillet (I use bacon fat) for about 2 minutes on each side. If you choose to add cheese add it once you flip the burgers.

Cut the bread into thin slices and then cut each slice in half and toast the bread on the leftover oil on the skillet. This is an important step, it helps the bread keep its shape.

Possible Toppings:

  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Smashed avocado
  • Homemade Mayo
  • Homemade Ranch
  • Bacon

We do all of these, makes for a messy burger but it is so good.

Butternut Squash Fries:

Ingredients:

  • Butternut Squash
  • Oil of choice
  • Salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel the squash and cut it into thin slices. Place them onto a large cookie sheet. They need to have enough room to lay in a single layer. Coat them in oil and sprinkle with desired amount of salt. Place them in the oven let them brown on one side and then flip them to brown on the other side.

Eating my Colors

Today was super busy. Me and the kiddos started the day by getting out and enjoying the “cooler” morning weather. We went for a nice walk and stopped off to play at the park. The walk back from the park was about 10 degrees hotter and all uphill, hard but good for the tushy… Which is what I repeated to myself the whole way home. After we got home we headed to our play-date at Powerhouse Gymnastics. Lucky for us their air conditioning was out. Can you hear that sarcasm? Little E had tons of fun running around with his friends and burning off some of that 3 year old energy. By the time we got home it was so late I had to start thinking about dinner. Last week I got the awesome new cookbook “Primal Cravings” (you can buy it here, and you should) This cookbook is amazing! I want to cook everything in it, and I will. This last weekend I made the recipe for biscuits and then I made it again, and then again. That’s right 3 times in 2 days, that’s 1 1/2 cups of butter, but who’s counting? Needless to say, we all really liked them and couldn’t get enough.

Tonight, I attempted the Cuban Sandwich. I switched it up though at the request of the hubs because he doesn’t like ground pork, and used pork tenderloin instead. ImageDeliciousness! I sliced it thin and then followed the rest of the recipe from the book.

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This was my final product, and it was AMAZING! I highly recommend it. The only problem I came across was getting the plantains to smash thinner. It was still good though, I will just have to work on my plantain smashing skills for next time.

I also made some stuffed mini peppers. I just made some guacamole and sliced the mini’s in half and stuffed them.

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Hope you all had a great day. Tomorrow I’m bringing you Mini Burger’s. An easy, fast recipe sure to please your pickiest eater.

Pork Green Chili

So, I had all of these plans to give a play by play all last week of what I made for dinner, how I threw it together and how it turned out, but my 3 year old was not having it. He didn’t want to nap and believe me he needs to nap, so that left very little time for me and my computer. You can definitely expect more recipes this week.

I’m getting back on track with making Sunday my day to prep for the week. Most Paleo followers will agree, the best way to be successful is to be prepared. So, last Sunday I marinated and grilled 4 lb of chicken to use in various ways throughout the week, and I made a huge pot of green chili. This was a lifesaver. All week long I was no more then 30 minutes away from putting dinner on the table. It was also nice to have a backup for my husband’s lunches if one of my recipes didn’t work out. That way he only had to suffer through a meal once.

This week if I cook something you will know about it. I know, I know… I have just made you all so happy and you can now survive your week. You’re welcome 🙂

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Pork Green Chili

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb Bone-In Pork Butt
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped (I prefer sweet onions)
  • 2 Anaheim Green Chilies, chopped
  • 4- 4 oz cans of Green Chilies
  • 1- 14.5 oz can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I prefer these)
  • 2 Jalapenos, chopped (You can add more if you want it spicier, or you can use Serrano Peppers)
  • 3 C of beef stock (or whatever kind of stock you prefer)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

How to:

Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees

Season the pork with the cumin, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Warm a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan on medium high. Once the pan is hot, add oil of choice, and then add your pork to the pan. You will want to brown all sides- about 5 minutes per side,

Remove the pork butt from the pan and set it aside.

Put the Anaheim peppers, onions and jalapenos in the pot and let them soften for about 5 minutes. Now, put the canned chilies and tomatoes in and deglaze the pan (fancy word for getting all of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan) add the pork into the pot and add the broth.Image

Cover the pot and put it into a 300 degree oven for 6-8 hours. Remove it from the oven, shred the pork and enjoy.

You Are What You Eat.

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Organic, Free Range, Grass Fed, Air chilled, Natural. These are the terms we see listed on everything that we consume. For the sake of not wanting this post to be a novel, I’m going to stick to meat and eggs.

One of the most important things I think about when I buy food for my family is knowing where my food comes from. I am a HUGE advocate for shopping locally and supporting the farmers in my community. Make it a point to visit farmer’s markets and small family-owned natural grocery stores. Not only will you have the opportunity to ask questions about their practices, but you will actually get to meet the person who fed and loved the animals and picked the eggs out of the hen house. In our world of mega-stores and chain-grocers, it is far too easy to forget how important this is. I mean, it’s what you feed your children and nourish your body with. Shouldn’t our foods origins be of the utmost importance?

That being said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of meat and egg labels.

Organic:

USDA regulations mandate that livestock, including chicken, labeled “organic,” must be allowed “access to pasture” during raising. This requirement includes “access to the outside, direct sunlight, fresh air and freedom of movement.” This is a start, and far better than the mass-produced brands that house their chickens, cows, and pigs in small barns and pump them full of antibiotics. The important thing for Paleo followers to think about is that organic does not mean pasture roaming. Organic animals are fed a vegetarian diet of grains, corn, and soy beans. As the post is titled, you are what you eat. Trace amounts of inflammatory grains and gluten pass through the meat of these animals.

Free Range:

This is something you will frequently see on eggs and chicken. USDA standards require that producers of “free-range” chicken “demonstrate that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside” during raising. However, free-range regulations do not elaborate on a given amount of daily time during which the chickens must be “allowed access” to the outdoors, or the size of the outdoor space they may roam. This makes the term “free-range” inherently ambiguous without a more substantive description of the conditions in which chickens were raised. Under the regulatory language, all organic chickens are raised under generic free-range conditions. However, free-range chicken does not necessarily qualify as an organic food product.

Air Chilled:

This is a term you will see listed on chicken packaging. The conventional way for poultry producers to cool the chicken down after slaughter is to dunk them in to chlorinated ice water, this helps to lower the temperature and kill any bacteria. Air chilled chicken is put into a climate controlled chamber and left to cool down in a humid cold room. The following is the process that Bell & Evans describes on their website:

Our system consists of three different cooling chambers; each is closely monitored to maintain a specific temperature and humidity during the process.  To assure proper chilling, the birds traverse almost two miles of track, taking them over 2 hours and 45 minutes to move through the system.  Unlike other Air Chill chambers, ours has a unique, single level chilling line that prevents cross contamination from birds on higher tracks dripping onto those underneath.

This slow chill process is also more effective in tenderizing the meat.  Since our chickens do not depend on ice water for chilling, the chicken’s natural juices are not diluted in, or replaced by the water in a conventional water chiller.  While in these conventional chillers, chickens may absorb 7 to 8% of their body weight in added water – and that water may contain chlorine. (Chlorine is added to conventional chillers to inhibit bacterial growth.)  This water “weeps” out of the meat and is trapped in the “diaper” you find in fresh chicken packaging.

Our birds come out of the Air Chill System with an internal temperature under 35ºF without freezing.  With more tender meat and a great symmetrical shape, our Air Chill System gives you a cleaner, better tasting chicken.

Grass Fed/ Pasture Raised:

Cattle raised on a primarily foraged diet are termed grass-fed or pasture-raised; meat or milk may be called grass-fed beef or pasture-raised dairy. However, the term “pasture-raised” can lead to confusion with the term “free range”. Per USDA standards, grass-fed beef are required to have 95% of the diet be pasture foliage. Due to the high-Omega 3 content in their diet, grass-fed beef is higher in naturally occurring Omega 3s, and lower in saturated fat.

Natural:

This term, in my opinion, means nothing. There is very little USDA regulation on this label, and the meat does not have to be free of antibiotics or fed any kind of organic diet. It can be fed pretty much anything as long as it is deemed “natural” in origin. The only thing the “natural” food label protects you from is growth hormone.

The food industry is full of manipulating labels and misleading terms, and the USDA & FDA don’t always have our best interests in mind. I know I have already said this, but please, support your local farmers. In the end they are our lifeline as a nation. Know as much as you can about what you put into your mouth. After all, you are what you eat.

Paleo Carrot Cake with Primal Cream Cheese Frosting

In honor of my Baby Daddy on Father’s Day. I wanted to make him his favorite dessert…Carrot Cake. This is the go-to dessert for me if I really want to make him feel special. I would always send him carrot cake loaves when he was deployed, and I’m pretty sure that is the reason he married me. Unfortunately, since going Paleo, I have been scared to try a Paleo version out of fear of ruining the joy this cake brings him. To make matters worse, we have been trying to consume less almond flour, (Here is why 5 Reasons to avoid Almond Flour) so I really had a hard task ahead of me. Luckily, I had the e-book, Coconut Flour Recipes by Melissa Smith, that Rubies and Radishes posted up a couple of weeks ago as a starting point. This cookbook is not a Paleo cookbook, so I had to change a couple of things, but this carrot cake turned out amazing. I hope you enjoy!

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Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg (buy the nutmeg whole. It is amazing how much better it tastes!)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. celtic sea salt
  • 1 C Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 1 C coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. liquid Stevia
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 C coconut Milk
  • 1/2 C  melted grass-fed salted butter
  • 12 Eggs
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 2 C shredded carrots

How to:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease your cake pan, it will make 2-8″ rounds or 1-8″ x 13″ square pan.

In a small bowl combine all spices and set aside. In a large bowl combine sugar, coconut flour  and baking soda. Then add vanilla, liquid stevia, coconut milk, melted butter, and eggs. Add in spices. Mix well with an emulsion blender. Make sure all of the lumps are out. Add in the raisins and carrot.

Pour batter into the prepared pan/pans and bake for 40 minutes. Let it cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

To Spray or Not to Spray?

Bugs. I hate them in my house. They can roam the outdoors all they want but I want them to stop at my door. Living a green life leaves you with few options in the war on bugs, so me and the hubs just decided that we would deal with the little pests and not treat the house. I mean, bugs coming over for some paleo chocolate chip cookies is a compliment to the toxic free environment you’ve created, right? Or, is this just something I tell myself? Well, this idea worked out okay through the fall and winter months, but then came spring and the wonderful San Antonio humidity. Our house suddenly became the cool hangout for cockroaches. I’m not talking about the tiny little annoying roaches… I’m talking about the King Kong, baby-eating roaches, and they liked to hang out in the kids’ bathroom… At night. Then, they jump out at you when you enter the room (Okay, maybe they ran and hid, but only after they were content with how truly horrified I was). So, we had finally had it. We had to get the house sprayed, and the sooner the better. Thus, my quest began.

Now, before we moved to Texas, we had spent the last three years living in Australia. No, not the cool part of Australia either. We live in the absolutely sweltering desert, smack in the middle, in a town called Alice Springs. Alice Springs is home of some of the most terrifying bugs and spiders on the planet (just Google Huntsman Spider… ick!). You would think that this experience would have prepared me for Texas, and that nothing would scare me. The difference is that Alice Springs has Red Centre Pest Control. What’s that, you ask? Just the best pest control EVER. Not only did our house stay clear of bugs, but any that you did see were dying on their backs. They had a completely green formula that kept the bugs away for a full year. So safe that the guy who sprayed it wore no protective clothing at all, not even a dust mask! We loved Red Centre when we lived there, and I desperately needed to find something like that in San Antonio. So, I Googled and came up with the typical places; Terminix, Orkin, etc. The problem is all of these places require you to leave your house for a period of time after they spray. I’m sorry, but something that isn’t safe for me to breath as you spray it does not belong in my house. I kept searching and finally came across Earth Wise Organic Pest Control. Their website claimed that they used all plant-based treatments, and that they are 100% safe. I called, I made the appointment, and they were here in three days. To shorten this story they were wonderful. Joe, the pest control specialist, was very knowledgeable and thoroughly de-bugged our house. I am happy to report that we have not seen a King Kong roach in almost 2 weeks.

So, what’s best for your family? If you don’t mind a few little bugs around by all means keep them. It says a lot about your house if bugs want to live there, right? But if you are like me and have had roaches, and they push you over the edge… do some research and find a company that you are comfortable with.