Homemade Yogurt


Yogurt, oh yogurt, how I love you. I, however, do not love paying the high prices for yogurt at the grocery store. Thankfully it’s pretty simple and easy to make yourself. You don’t even necessarily need any special equipment or tools. All you really need is some good, wholesome milk and a live active cultured yogurt to start it (or a yogurt culture if you want to be fancy). I’ll clue you in on how I did it!

I used:

8 cups non-fat, organic milk

1/4 cup 0%   Greek yogurt

That’s it!

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Method:

  1. Heat the milk in a large stock pot or sauce pan. If your milk is already at room temperature, it won’t take near as long as it will if your milk is cold. Bring it to a boil (scald the milk for all of you kitchen-savvy friends), but don’t let it burn! It’s helpful to whisk or stir the milk while it heats to prevent it from burning on the bottom – burnt milk is so gross.

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  1. Once the milk begins to boil, remove from heat source. Walk away, read some blogs, do some yoga, dance around the kitchen for awhile.
  2. If you happen to have a kitchen or yogurt thermometer, the milk is ready once it is at 108 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have one, just touch the side of the pot. Once you can hold your finger to the side of the pot without burning (please be careful doing this!) photo 3
  3. At this point, add your cultured yogurt and whisk to combine.
  4. I happen to have a Yogotherm – which acts like a thermos to keep the milk at a warm temperature while it ferments. If you don’t happen to have one of these amazing little devices, turn your crockpot on the lowest setting (preferably before you start this process) and pour the milk/yogurt mixture in there. Walk away. If you happen to do this in the evening just let it ferment overnight. I allow mine to sit on the counter in the Yogotherm for about 12-20 hours (big window, I know, sometimes I forget about it). When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have glorious, amazing, delicious yogurt!

Notes:

This will create a slightly runny, tangy yogurt. If you would like to thicken it to be more like plain store-bought yogurt you can add some powdered milk until you reach the consistency you prefer. If you would like to make this yogurt Greek-style, you can pour it in a muslin bag hanging over a bowl to collect the draining whey. Once the whey has drained you’ll have a thick, wonderful Greek yogurt. Save the whey and use it in place of buttermilk for bread :).

 

Parmesan Pork Chops


Pork chops are like that friend you have that you only hang out with every now and then. You always forget about them, and when you do remember to call them you think “oh this is going to be awesome!” and it never is.

That’s how I usually feel about pork chops. I always think, this is going to be so good and I take photos and then I say “meh I’m full so I guess it served it’s purpose” and I never post that recipe. However, I made these parmesan pork chops, and POW! I’m definitely making this again, and I’m about 95% sure that it would pass the boyfriend test as well.

And it’s taking forever to post this because I’m currently watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. Dear God, this show is hilarious… and addictive. And distracting. Seriously, I’ve been typing this paragraph for about twenty minutes. If you haven’t already watched this show, start now and avoid all of your responsibilities and procrastinate as much as possible.

Okay, okay on to these life-changing pork chops…

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 center-cut pork chops, sliced thinly lengthwise
1.5 T shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup oats, course ground to breadcrumb consistency (I used a coffee grinder on the course setting)
1 T liquid egg whites
pinch salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika

Method
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Process the oats to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Combine the cheese, oats, and seasoning in a shallow dish. Brush the pork chops with the egg whites. Dip the chops in the oat/cheese mixture to coat and place on the baking sheet.

Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, carefully flipping at 10 minutes. Enjoy your crispy, awesome pork chops and relish over the fact that you “didn’t like pork chops” 20 minutes prior.

Now go watch Parks and Rec.

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Puppy Parmesan- Pumpkin Softie Treats


Here’s a great recipe for homemade, soft and chewy dog treats. The recipe doesn’t make a huge batch, which is great since they don’t contain any preservatives. You could in theory double the recipe and store the extras either in the freezer or the fridge after they cool.

    Doggie Parmesan-Pumpkin Softies

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree (either canned or homemade)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup millet flour (or other GF/WF flour of choice, as most doggies can’t digest wheat)

Method

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread the mixture out about 1/4 inch thick on the lined baking sheet. Using a pizza cutter, make a grid on the spread out dough (like you would if you were making crackers).

Bake for 20 mins at 350 degrees. Carefully flip the cookies and bake another 20 minutes.

Allow to cool before giving them to your sweet baby.

Adapted from this recipe.

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Grinding Flour Yourself: Save Money, and Your Health?


Have you ever had pancakes from freshly milled flour? (whether gluten-free flour or not) It’s divine. Also, it’s much more nutritious for your body. How can this be when its exactly the same grain in the store bought bagged flour? Unless you’re purchasing flour from the freezer section of your grocery store (which I highly doubt) then it’s entirely different.

Commercial flour has to be able to last through packaging, distribution, and sitting on a shelf until the ultimate consumer (A.K.A. you) purchases it and takes it home to sit in pantry until it’s used. I don’t know about you, but something with that long of a shelf-life without any kind of refrigeration or preservative measures rubs me the wrong way. How is it able to to sit on a shelf and not go rancid if it is indeed “whole grain”. It’s simple, the flour you purchase is not whole grain. In order to make flours last on the shelf and in your pantry the bran and germ must be removed, and if they aren’t removed they go rancid quickly after milling and the nutrient qualities deteriorate.

I’m sure you’ve seen online that you can purchase whole (intact) grains in bulk for reasonable prices. And I’m sure you’ve said to yourself “but what do I do with whole spelt berries?” (or whatever grain you happen to be looking at). You grind them into flour silly-pants!!

The Benefits:

Save money!

Freshly (self) milled flour contains the entire grain including the vitamin and fiber rich bran and the germ, which is chock full of healthy oils and vitamins

You can make it when you need it, no store trip at 9:00 PM when you want to make blondies and suddenly realize you only have 1/8 of a cup of flour.

You know what you’re getting. If you have allergies or intolerances to certain grains or seeds that are commonly produced in flour mills, you need not worry about cross-contamination!

Do you need a flour mill? Not necessarily, you can use a coffee or spice mill for very small amounts of flour or a food processor in some cases. My mom (of course) has a Nutrimill, which is where I get most of my flour from, I just freeze all of the flour until I’m ready to use it to preserve the germ and nutrient. (which you should do with all of your whole grains, including your brown rice and quinoa… if you’re not it’s time to start)

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Freshly ground corn meal in the Nutrimill

Homemade Lavender Chamomile Night Cream


As you all know, I don’t like to put artificial scary things in OR on my body. Your skin is actually an organ, yes an organ. This means that your skin absorbs and metabolizes whatever it is exposed to. Now if that doesn’t make you think twice about putting preservatives and petroleum jelly on your skin, I don’t know what will! If you’d like to read more about the harmful effects of petrochemicals and what to look for in beauty and personal care products here is a great article:

http://www.naturalpureorganics.com/petrochemicals.htm

Ok, now onto the good stuff. I wanted a super moisturizing and relaxing night cream for my super dry skin and tight muscles. Simply, I need to relax more. As I have mentioned before, my mother makes homemade lotions, soaps, and various other beauty and personal hygiene product regularly. So we had all the supplies necessary for making this cream, but they can easily be found in a health-food store or online.

One of my favorite naturalist blogs has a recipe of a cream that sounded like it was right up my alley. Dreamy, moisturizing, relaxation goodness. We followed the recipe word for word and it turned out fabulous! Go check out the recipe and try it for yourself from Claire at Everyday Roots!

everydayroots.com/how-to-make-homemade-lotion

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Quick and Easy Chicken Curry and Homemade Faux-Sourdough Buckwheat Naan


Okay so it’s 5000000 degrees outside. All week I’ve consumed nothing but cold salads and bowls of yogurt with fresh fruit and raw nuts just because it’s too hot to turn on the oven or to put forth any culinary effort. I’m craving solid, hot, real, homemade food. So why not heat things up a bit with some curry? Let’s go from one extreme to the next shall we?

I picked up some yellow curry simmer sauce at TJ’s this past week. I’ve been dying to use it, my first instinct was to poach eggs in it. Which I’m still planning on doing – when I can stand the heat to make breakfast in the morning. Regardless, I had some chicken tenders thawed which are the perfect venue for yellow curry. This simmer sauce from TJ’s was perfect for my taste – not too too spicy. We all know I love my spicy Mexican food and even most Asian chilies are right up my alley – curry however, is a whole ‘nother animal. If you tend to like your curry less… mild, you’ll want to spice up this sauce. If not, your golden.

Curry in my opinion, especially a nice thick and saucy curry like this one requries something to sop it up. You could put this curry over steamed brown rice or quinoa (yummmmm) or make this super quick and gluten-free (starch free, egg free, soy free, grain free) Naan.

So here we go, as Julia Child said gather your ingredients….

Quick and Easy Chicken Curry
Serves 4
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Ingredients:
1 Lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
3-4 medium sized zucchini squash, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 jar Trader Joes (or whatever brand you prefer or homemade ~ 2.5 – 3 cups)
1/2 white onion finely chopped

Method
Place everything in a large heavy non-stick skillet.
Cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked, the vegetables are tender, and the sauce is super thick and delicious.

*I did not add water to mine as the jar of sauce suggested, this is because the zucchini squash release water when heated, if you add water you will have a runnier sauce.

Faux-Sourdough Buckwheat Naan
Serves 4
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Ingredients
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
2 T yeast (yes, 2 T. Don’t doubt me)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t sea salt
(feel free to add any herbs or spices you desire)
2-3 T unsweetened almond milk (or water)

Method
Mix all ingredients together, approximately 10 minutes before you start the rest of your meal. Allow to combine and “rise” between 30 and 45 minutes.
Heat some olive oil over medium low heat.
The dough will be super sticky and hard to work with, I used a spatula to scoop it out into four even (ish) wads straight into the pan. Spread it out flat in the pan and allow to cook 5-6 mins on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Enjoy with curry, as personal pizza crusts, as a grilled cheese….. however you delight :)

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Battling a Cold…..


One thing that people always ask me about is what to do for a cold. They want to know what to take, eat, drink, and do to alleviate symptoms and speed up their recovery. From a holistic standpoint I advise to stead clear from over the counter medicines, as they are full of man-made chemicals and junk like high fructose corn syrup… Yuck. Instead I look to what God gave us for healing. Nutritious food and herbs generally do the trick for me.

I’m down with a cold right now for instance and I’ve been taking elderberry extract to kill the bug and increasing my vitamin C and zinc consumption in my meals. Also, tea is one of the most powerful medicines we have. Drinking echinacea tea helps alleviate the symptoms of the cold and dandelion tea assists your liver in filtering out the toxins created by your immune system battling the virus.

As for food go for lean proteins, especially wild caught salmon and tuna as the high omega levels will assist your immune system. Beans and legumes are an excellent source of potassium and zinc, especially when paired with a whole grain like brown rice ( which creates a complete amino acid profile as well ). You should also take in a good amount of fresh veggies and some fruit. (limit fruit if you have a candida issue like me) Spices like garlic, ginger, and turmeric also aid your immune system.

A good rule of thumb is it stick with anti-inflammatory foods. I will be talking more about those foods in my next health post.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast


Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Goat’s cheese: tart, slightly stinky, creamy

Why goat’s cheese? Well, as I have mentioned, I am lactose intolerant. Goat’s cheese is much easy to digest than regular dairy cheese or milk. Also, it’s just plain decadent! It’s very similar in texture and taste to cream cheese, with much more protein and less fat. Healthy cream cheese? Yes please!

If you have a fickle tummy like me, this chicken dish has all the flavor and none of the upset as some of the run-of-the-mill cheesy chicken mains out there. It’s also much more sophisticated to take to work for lunch than chicken nuggets and yogurt. Just saying… everyone at work was very jealous of my leftovers. :)

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Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, split lengthwise and pounded thin
  • 4 oz soft goat’s cheese
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t parsley

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix the almond flour with salt, pepper, and spices
  3. Place 1 oz of room temperature goat cheese in the center of each pounded fillet
  4. Roll the fillet up, enclosing the cheese and using toothpicks if needed
  5. Press the fillets, one at a time, into the flour mixture to coat
  6. Place the fillets, seam side down, into a greased baking dish
  7. Cover and bake for 30 – 40 minutes
  8. Uncover and return to overn for 5 – 10 more minutes or until crisp.

Serve with roasted vegetables, sauteed spinach for a low carb meal or over steamed brown basmati rice and vegetables. :) Happy tummy!

Chicken Artichoke Stew


Holy moley has it been a week! I’ve been super busy lately. After moving into a new house two months ago, I’ve finally gotten settled and everything decorated, dolled-up, and girlified! I also recently accepted a new job offer at a major retail company to assist in accessory management, hello steady income!! Due to my new schedule (which is filling up quickly) I’ve been cooking up a storm in my kitchen to fill my freezer with ready-to-go lunches for work.

This recipe was adapted from Ginger Lemon Girl and the original recipe can be found here: http://gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com/2010/06/30-days-gluten-free-quick-easy-meals_19.html

 

Chicken and Artichoke Stew

Serves 2

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Ingredients:
  • 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup white beans, soaked and drained
  • 1 can artichokes, drained
  • 1/2 can sliced carrots, drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2T minced garlic
  • 1/2 t thyme
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned, lite or regular whatever your preference)

Method

  1. Add the first seven ingredients to a medium sized pot.
  2. Bring to a rapid boil and cook two to three minutes.
  3. Reduce to low, simmer for four to five hours or until the beans are soft
  4. Once the beans are soft, drain the water and add the coconut milk
  5. Return to a simmer, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Allow the stew to simmer at least 20 to 30 more minutes for the flavors to meld and the milk to thicken.
  7. Serve with grated parmesan, if desired.

Perfect Single Lady Meringue


Dessert for brekki?! YES PLEASE! As part of my “Single Lady Series” I’m sharing with your the perfect single lady batch of sugar free, yes you heard me, SUGAR FREE meringue. I chose to use my delicious protein packed treat as a topper for Steel Cut Oats with blueberries and Greek yogurt, yummmmbo!

 

 

Perfect Single Lady Meringue

Serves one

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites, or approximately 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 t cream of tartar
  • 2 T erythritol
  • a pinch pure stevia
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t lemon juice
  • 1 t cornstarch
  • 2 T water

Method

  1. In an electric stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks begin to form on high.
  2. While your waiting for that magic to happen, whisk the cornstarch with the water and microwave it for around 30 seconds
  3. To the egg mixture add the erythritol 1/2 T at a time along with the stevia.
  4. Add vanilla and lemon juice
  5. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to beat for 1 minute.

You may use it as a topping as is (like a marshmallow creme), or you can bake it like I did in a 325 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Notes:

Something you can also do is add unsweetened cocoa powder for chocolate meringue, (I’m certain it would require more sweetener), espresso powder for coffee flavored meringue, or a spice mix such as pumpkin pie spice! The possibilities are endless!

 

I love trying new and different things to jazz up my oatmeal, what’s your favorite way to eat oatmeal or porridge?