Winter Harvest

Winter Harvest

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Plain/Vanilla/Unsweetened Almond Milk and Chocolate Almond Milk

I'm listing my recipes that I use for both plain almond milk and chocolate almond milk. The plain almond milk is just the recipe I use that is basically the recipe everyone uses. It varies some depending on if you want it thicker or sweet etc....
The chocolate almond milk is soooo good and comes from "Raw Food Real World" recipe book. It is the only chocolate almond milk I have ever made and it is delicious. We always use raw/organic almonds.

Here is what I do: You will need a nut milk bag to squeeze the milk out of after you have blended the almonds. I just don't know of another way that will render you a nice nut milk with no grainy bits. You can buy nut milk bags at any health food store or order them on line. You can use multi layers of cheese cloth in a pinch but the bag is much easier.
You need to soak your almonds in filtered water 12 hours. If push come to shove I will do it in less but 12 hours but 12 hours or over night is optimal. This allows the raw almond to sprout.
Nuts have phytic acid.  Phytic acid is also found in grains and legumes.  Just as with grains and legumes, soaking nuts is essential for proper digestions.  When eating nuts that haven’t been soaked, the phytic acid binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract and can not be absorbed in the intestine and to many bound minerals can lead to mineral deficiencies.  By soaking, you are breaking down the phytic acid so it can be absorbed properly.  
Nuts also have high amounts of enzymes inhibitors.  This is another reason why un soaked nuts are hard to digest.  Soaking nuts neutralizes the enzymes allowing for proper digestion. (taken from whole lifestyle nutrition web site.)Take one cup of raw organic almonds and cover them in filtered water at least by one inch. The almonds will soak up the water and plump up. When you are ready to make your milk drain the almonds and rinse them well. Next.......

Plain/Vanilla/Unsweetened Almond Milk: I do not like thick almond milk. Most store bought brands are a little on the thick side for me. Its more like drinking cream than milk. BUT! if you like yours thicker than cut back on the water. (If you want 1/2 gallon then double the recipe. That is usually what I make or I would forever be making almond milk.)
Into the blender place the one cup of soaked almonds with 4 cups of filtered water and blend on high speed till the almonds are completely blended up. About a minute or so. I have a Vita mix. I have never tried this with any other blender so I can't tell you how it would work. I imagine if you have a strong blender it will work just fine.
I then add a pinch (tiny pinch) of salt and literally a drop of vanilla. You can use as much or little of the salt and vanilla as you want. You may also add agave or honey or pitted dates for sweetness if you like a sweet almond milk. I personally don't like it sweet and really don't like but a pinch of vanilla.  Add  1 tsp. to 1 Tbl. of lecithin OPTIONAL. More on Lecithin below. Blend again. Pour into a nut milk bag that is over a bowl and wrapping the top of the bag start to squeeze the liquid out of the bag. Do this till there is nothing but dry almond pulp left in the bag. There will be a little foam on the top. I spoon some of this off but don't usually spoon it all off. Pour into a storage container and place in the fridge. This should last you 3-5 days if kept refrigerated.

Chocolate Almond Milk (Raw Food Real World): double for 1/2 gallon, I always do.
Drain and rinse 1 cup of soaked raw almonds. Place in blender with 4 cups filtered water. Blend till smooth. Pour into nut milk bag and squeeze till all milk is out and nothing but dry pulp is left in bag. Rinse out blender and add the newly squeezed milk back into blender. Add

1 1/2 Tbl. raw cocoa powder (this varies depending on how chocolatey you like it to taste. I like it a little less on the chocolate. The original recipe called for 2 Tbl.)
pink of salt
1/2 cup agave nectar or raw unfiltered honey
1 1/2- 2 Tbl. vanilla (I would say start with 1 Tbl. and add till it tastes right for you. )
1 1/2 - 2 Tbl. coconut oil
1 tsp. too 1 Tbl. lecithin (this comes made from soy or from sunflowers.)
Blend till smooth. I scoop the foam as much as I can and then pour into container and store in fridge for 3-5 days.
The original recipe calls for lecithin. It is used as a fat emulsifier. Making things creamy. It is mostly made of soy beans. We ingest a very limited amount of soy and only organic. Usually oganic tofu for some recipe. Other than that no soy.  If I use it I use only lecithin made from sunflowers.  Research it and if you want to add it you can. Add 1 tsp. to  1 Tbl. to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
Anyway, thats it. Go and enjoy good home made organic almond milk. For us it is much cheaper to make it. We pay around $10 a pound for organic raw almonds. So compared to the carton it is the better way for us to go, particularly since we haven't found an organic brand of almond milk.

Lets talk Lecithin:
One of the issues with home made nut milks is they separate. The fat from the nut and the water separate into what looks unpleasant (like dairy milk gone bad) There is nothing wrong with the nut milk it just needs a good shake or stir and back to beautiful. BUT, if you want keep it more combined and the fat suspended in the water more like a homogenized nut milk would look then Lecithin is the answer. Lecithin comes in soy or sunflower form. You can buy both GMO free but it is a little harder to find organic. I would say do the research. Lecithin has a lot of wonderful health benefits and I would urge you to also research that as well.
Now there is real debate over the safety of Lecithin during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Two thoughts on this is again is be your own advocate and do the research and also speak with your doctor about it. I know that it being soy or sunflower can make a difference. So I leave you with that choice. 
I would not based on my research be concerned if pregnancy or breastfeeding isn't an issue. I think lecithin is a VERY good and helpful supplement. BUT! You do the leg work and decide for yourself.
Your nut milk will not suffer without it other than the inconvenience of halving to stir it to make it look pretty again.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Black Bean Burger

As we try and eat better and try to eat less meat a good burger is necessary. I have always liked vegetarian burgers, so this was easy for me to enjoy.
One of the problems with black bean burgers is they tend to be mushy on the inside. I worked to try and prevent that. There is a fine line with bean burgers between firm and dry. I think these are just the perfect firm burger without being dry.
A very adaptable burger for sure. We don't eat a lot of bread these days but I do make home made hamburger buns to go with our bean burgers. We also do a little cheese with them as well. Everything we choose is organic if possible. Just another way to up the level of goodness these burgers offer.

here is what I did: You can absolutely half this recipe. It makes about 12

4 Cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup frozen corn, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1/2 cup grated onion
2 cloves garlic grated
2 TBl. minced pickled jalapeno
3 tsp. salt (this seems like a lot but between the beans and bread crumbs the salt is needed)
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ancho chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
3 Tbl. hot sauce (we use Cholula hot sauce)
4 eggs beaten
2 cups dried bread crumbs
One of the things that makes bean burgers mushy is the moisture in the beans. So after rinsing  them, I placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. I stirred the beans about half way through to get the bottom moist beans to the top. If you bake them too long they will dry out too much. Better to under bake them then over bake them. Baking is not necessary it is just how I have found to help the consistency. After baking let cool and then place in a food processor and pulse them till they are large crumbles. Place in a bowl.
 Place the sunflower seeds in food processor and process till small pieces and add to the bowl of beans.
Next add the corn to the food processor and process till small pieces and add to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and add the onion, garlic, jalapeno, salt, pepper, both chili powders, cumin,hot sauce and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. It should be slightly salty (this will be ok as we are adding bread crumbs and that will take care of the saltiness)
Next add the eggs and combine, stir in the bread crumbs (the mixture will be very thick. I sometimes just use my hands if it is too hard to stir.) Let mixture set for 5 minutes and then form into patties.
I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop out the mix and then squeeze the mixture together and then flatten out and form into a patty about 4" in diameter or about 1/2 " thick or so. Place on a plate till ready to fry.
Heat pan on med heat. Add a few Tbl. of oil and when oil is hot add burgers and fry for about 5 minutes. Turn the patty and fry an additional 5 minutes. If using cheese add cheese the last 2 minutes of frying. I cover the pan and let them steam a little to help melt the cheese. The burgers should be nice and crisp. You don't want to try and cook the burgers too fast as they will be crisp on the outside and still have uncooked egg on the inside. Unlike frying beef patties which cook at higher temps, you want to give these plenty of time to cook and get crisp.
I serve mine on home made hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato, raw onions, and smashed avocado that has a little lime and salt mixed in with it. You can of course use any condiment you like.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rustic Hummus

My family loves hummus. I have a son that could live on the stuff. I use to buy a big container of it weekly at Costco. It dawned on me that there was no reason to buy it when I can make it at home for 1/2 the price.
I have tried many different recipes. I have never found one that I loved. They were bitter or just not right. This one is really good.
 To get that super smooth hummus we tend to see you must sit and remove the little skins off of each garbanzo bean. Well after pulling the skins off of about 5 little beans (I had 4 cans of beans rinsed and ready to use) I said the heck with it. We will have rustic hummus. I'm not sitting there and peeling the skins off of 4 cans of beans. So it is up to you on how smooth you want it to look. It tastes the same.
This recipe makes a large bowl. You can certainly half it.
The thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it to your own taste. More of this, less of that. It is a good basic recipe to play with.

Here is what I did:
4 cans garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
1 cup tahini (this is a sesame seed paste you can find at most grocery stores and health food stores. Make sure you mix it well before you use it. The oil and seed butter separate. )
4 lemons juiced
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil + a drizzle or so as needed while blending.
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and just tear the top leaves off, a little stem is ok. You will be blending it a food processor anyway.
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tsp. garlic powder (you can certainly use fresh garlic. This is just easy and works fine in my opinion.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
optional- a drizzle of honey if it tastes too tart from the lemon juice. The lemon will mellow some if you want to wait before adding any honey.

In food processor add tahini and lemon juice. Blend and scrape down sides if needed. Add evoo, cilantro, cucumber, garlic powder, salt, paprika, cumin and blend scraping sides down to blend it well. Add half the beans and blend well. Add the other half and blend well. Scrape down sides a few times during blending to make sure it is completely blended. If it is too thick add a drizzle of evoo or a Tbl. at a time of water.  Taste for tartness and add honey if you want to. Just a small drizzle. As I said before the lemon will mellow out. Now taste for seasonings. Add more salt or cumin needed. You don't want to under salt this or it will be very bland. The lemons and salt are important ingredients in getting the right hummus flavor.
Serve with cut up veggies, corn chips, pita chips or eat it off a spoon. It all works. We love to use it in veggie roll up as the condiment. YUM.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Walnut Bars

My husband and sons love, love, loves these. They are a great grab and go. If you have a sweet tooth, these will hit the spot.  They are pretty easy to make and work great for us.

Here is what I do:
1/2 Cup raw unfiltered organic honey
1/4 Cup organic cold pressed coconut oil
1/4 Cup almond butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Cup chopped walnuts or half cup walnuts and half cup almonds chopped
1/2 Cup raw organic cocoa nibs (you can use chocolate chips if you want. We just don't want the added sugar. Cocoa nibs keeps it healthier.)
1/4 Cup sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup pepitas ( raw shelled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 Cup dried goji berries (I sit and cut them in half. You don't have to but I like them smaller)
1 Cup organic rolled oats

Place walnuts, cocoa nibs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries and rolled oats into a large bowl. Mix and set aside.
Oil an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.
In a saute pan set over med-low heat add the honey, coconut oil, almond butter, salt, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix good and stir till heated. Hot but not boiling.
Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine (I use a rubber spatula for this. It seems to work best and everything doesn't stick to it.)
Pour into prepared baking dish and press everything in tight. Place in refrigerator for two hours. Take out and cut into 12 bars. I them wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. They will soften some as they warm up while you eat them. Sticky and delicious. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Vegetarian Mexican Tortilla Soup

This soup is terrific, filling and healthy. It is adapted from "The Food Babe's" recipe. Just like most recipes I take a recipe and then make it my own to suit our tastes. I will give you options in making it healthier if you choose. I also used all organic ingredients where I could.

Here's what I did: (I doubled the recipe)

2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Cups onion, chopped (I used two small white onions)
1/2 Cup diced cerely
1 Cup diced carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 cup green lentils, rinsed (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup but I wanted more so I used 1 Cup to make it heartier)
6 Cups vegetable stock
1 (14oz) can or jar crushed tomatoes (mine were chopped not crushed and they broke down just fine)
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2- 1 tsp. salt (you will taste and adjust seasoning at the end)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 sprouted corn tortillas **( I did not use sprouted corn tortillas as I couldn't find them. I bought a bag of organic white corn tortilla chips and crushed up a hand full to add to the soup. It is important to use organic corn products as almost all corn and corn products are GMO's. If I can find sprouted corn tortillas next time I make the soup I will give it a try. The organic chips worked great though)

In a large pot heat the olive oil up over med heat and add the onions, celery and carrots. Stir and cook till the vegetables are slightly tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Next add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, lentils, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover and simmer 30 minutes or so till lentils are tender. When lentils are tender add a hand full of crushed corn tortilla chips(or the sprouted corn tortillas.) Cover and continue to simmer another ten minutes. The chips should break up and dissolve into the soup and thicken it up some. Taste for seasoning.
Serve with optional toppings of :
tortillas chips
monterey jack cheese (I use pepper jack cheese. Organic or course.)
cubed avacado
additional cilantro


Monday, March 9, 2015

Individual Cauliflower Pizza

Made this today and this is sooooo good that I just had to put it on here for you all to try. I unfortunately can't remember which web site I found it on to give them the credit they are due for this wonderful recipe. I found it by looking for cauliflower recipes on Pinterest.
We are trying to go 95-100% organic without breaking the bank. This was fairly reasonably priced and very easy to make.

Here is what I did:

1 lg. head cauliflower, shredded. (you need 4 cups. The Cauliflower I used made a smidgen more than 4 cups and I used it all.)
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
salt (optional)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup pizza sauce (optional. I did not use it. I just used the slices of fresh tomato)
fresh basil, shreds
12 slices of tomato
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven 450

using a hand grater, shred cauliflower into crumbles. Measure out 4 cups and place in microwave safe bowl.  I had about 4 1/2 cups and just used it all.
cook cauliflower in microwave for 8 minutes. Stir and let cool 10-15 minutes.
Add salt to taste if using, the 2 beaten eggs, 2 cups mozarella, oregano, dried basil and garlic powder and stir to combine.
 Lightly  grease two baking sheet pans. Divide into 12 balls (I used a 1/3 measuring cup and got 11 and that worked fine) Place spaced out on baking sheets and pat each one down to about 4 inch wide rounds. Bake 15 minutes. The edges will char and this is a good thing as it is very flavorful.
Remove from the oven and turn the oven onto broil. Top each with parmesan cheese, shreds of fresh basil and then mozzarella. Top with slice of tomato. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes till cheeses are melted and tomatoes are warmed some.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Home made air freshener spray (throw away that Fabreze)

Once in a while you just need to spray something in the air that smells good. Here is a great way to make your own at home with water and essential oils. Easy and safe. No synthetic fragrances here.

Air Freshener:

2 Cups distilled water (I use tap water if I don't have distilled water)
1 Tbl. baking soda
1 ounce cheap vodka (vodka has a disinfectant element and it also helps suspend the oils in the water)
15-50 drops essential oils of choice

Place all ingredients in spray bottle. Shake before spraying in the air.