Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nabeyaki Udon

Do you ever have the feeling you have gotten into a bit of a "food rut"? This was me. I was bored and feeling totally uninspired in the kitchen. While Pinterest is a constant flow of culinary visions, I often feel like Pinterest and I aren't on the same page. Ya, dig? Like I don't want to use Italian packet season, cream of chicken soup, or Ritz Crackers in my meals. So I decided to go through my cookbooks. One that I hadn't really looked at in awhile was The Kind Life by Alicia Silverstone.  I had won a copy of this book on her blog and have rarely used it, even when I was vegan. What I love about her book is that there are recipes that do not solely rely on the use of Soy meat or dairy substitutes (there are a few of those in the earlier chapters). The Nabeyaki Udon caught my eye.  The description and ingredients lead me to feel that it would be very nourishing and comforting. And I was right. It is not a super easy dish and has quite a few steps but it was worth it. So if you have sometime and want to treat your body to something healthful and slurpable, this is yo jam.


Ingredients:



  • dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 carrot cut up
  • 1 stalk of broccoli cut up
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, cleaned and cut up
  • 2 baby bok choy
  • 1 handful of bean sprouts
  • 1 package of udon noodles
  • *These next ingredients are listed in Alicia's recipe but I did not have them on hand.




  • 4-6 dandelion leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 nappa cabbage leaves or collards, roughly chopped
  • 1" piece of kombu (I didn't have this but I would love to use it next time)

  • Sauce:




  • 4 teaspoons of shoyu (I used organic tamari)
  • 4 tablespoons of water from soaking shitake mushrooms
  • 5-8 drops of fresh ginger juice. (grate a 1" piece of ginger and squeeze)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice or rice vinegar

  • Steps:

    Place the shitake mushrooms in a small bowl with warm water and cover.  Soak until softened or for about 30 mins.

    While the shroomies are soakin' I chopped up my veggies and set them aside.  So pretty.


    Then I get the sauce ingredients going.  First I grated a 1" piece of ginger and squeezed some juice out.  Then, I squeezed a lil lemon until gave me what I needed . . . about a 1/2 tsp of juice.  To this I added 4 tbsp of the water from the mushrooms and about 2 tbsp of the organic tamari because I like it so much (the recipe calls for less)





    I already had a package of udon noodles so I just added some boiling water and covered them for about 3 mins.




    On the stove boil about 3 cups of water and the rest of the mushroom liquid.  Add the kombu if you have it and mushrooms and lower the heat to a simmer.  Begin adding veggies one at a time starting with the ones that take longer to cook (carrots for example).  Veggies shouldn't take longer than 2 mins to cook.  You still want them to have texture and be fresh.

    In a ceramic pot I start by adding a layer of noodles. Then, I add some veggies.




    I added about a cup of the water from the veggies and sauce to my liking.



    I covered my creation for like 5 minutes to let the flavors infuse the noodles and then . . . .


    I enjoyed!!

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    Sally Fallon is My Betty Crocker

    Time to update y'all. Lately I have been in the kitchen more than ever. No joke. Making meals, snacks, prepping for future meals, fermenting . . . .yes, fermenting.  About a year ago I had purchased a cook book by Sally Fallon titled Nurturing Traditions. Which, you can purchase here. A dear friend recommended it to me and it is now my #1 cook book.  I had always been interesting in organic and local foods but it was only an interest and not a way of feeding my family. As soon as I had the book in my hands I felt deeply connected. Everything warmed my heart: the whimsical cover, simple illustrations, and comforting meals. The book is based on Weston A. Price's research on the traditional eating habits of isolated cultures. He was a dentist who traveled the world and studied groups that had yet to be touched by western influence (canned foods, processed sugars, etc.). What he found was remarkable. I have started reading his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration  but it is a solid read that I find myself struggling to get through. It does, however, have some beautifully compelling images showing the teeth and gums of both isolated and adapted societies. It all just clicked, ya know? Like made perfect sense to me. So much so that I have decided to change the direction of this blog to explore my kitchen adventures with Dr. Price. Here are the guidelines of the diet (I got this straight from the Weston A. Price Foundation)

    - Eat whole, natural foods.
    - Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
    - Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
    - Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
    - Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
    - Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
    - Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
    - Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
    - Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
    - Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
    - Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
    - Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
    - Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
    - Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
    - Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
    - Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
    - Use only natural supplements.
    - Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
    - Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
    - Practice forgiveness.


    While a lot of this seems simple it has been a challenge for me to wrap my brain around it.  I started out slow with organic fruits and veggies. Then, went to raw dairy and grass fed/pastured meats and eggs. Now I am making fermented sauces, bone broths, and fermented dairy items.My kitchen often times looks like some crazy science lab! I am hoping to get into the kombucha game soon which will be sure to raise the eyebrows of guests haha. 
     My brain is filled with ideas for future blog posts and goodies to share. So lets do it! Let's take back the nutrition of our families and start nourishing our bodies!

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    Breakfast Smoothie

    I did not make a resolution this year . . .no real point.  My goals are always the same.  Get healthy, be organized, make time for daily devotionals,  and win the lottery.  Now that I am 6 weeks pp I can start working out a bit but my biggest struggle is eating right.  Having a newborn and a five year old really make it difficult to prepare healthy meals let alone eat them.  I have been getting some inspiration from good ol' Pinterest and will share what I find works.

    Breakfast is a toughie.  I find it is crucial to eat a balanced breakfast (Especially while breastfeeding) but it is a challenge to plan, make, and consume one.  An obvious solution is a smoothie.  
    Reasons Smoothies are awesome:
    • Don't need a ton of ingredients 
    • Most smoothie ingredients can be frozen so not a huge waste
    • Very few dishes
    • Can eat with one hand
    • Easy to customize to what your body needs
    I have seen several on Pinterest that had oatmeal in them and I think this is genius. Oatmeal is such a great way to start your day. It stabilizes blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, heart protection, and tons more.  One night make up a few servings and stick it in a container in the fridge.  Then you can use it all week and not have to make it up every morning. Plus having it cold from the fridge is a bonus.  No one wants a warm smoothie.  Anyways. . . . I could go on about oatmeal for days . ..well at least another paragraph but let's move on to the recipe.

    Breakfast Smoothie
    • 2 Frozen Bananas (I wait until mine are brown and then put them in the freezer. Better than adding ice)
    • 1 small container of plain yogurt (use greek to boost protein)
    • 1/3 cup of cooked oats
    • handful of raw almonds
    • 1 tbsp 100% Natural Maple Syrup (or any other sweetener you like)
    • 1/3 cup of non fat milk or almond milk
    Add all the ingredients to your blender.  Let them whirl into smoothie perfection.  This is a really yummy and very filling recipe.  I could only drink half.


    Monday, January 7, 2013

    Welcome Elsie!

    Call off the search, I am still alive!!  LOL!  I know I have been missing for a few months but I have a good reason . . .  Elsie was born!  She was 9lbs 15ozs and I had her without any drugs (that's right, don't mess with me).

    She was born November 24th and I have been thrown into a spiral of baby and holiday craziness!  I am hoping to start collecting coupons this Sunday and weeding through my coupon binder. I have been getting samples but I fear I would have to do a 3 hr video to cover it all. So my plan is to just start fresh next week (maybe a few highlights of some stuff I have gotten).  If any of you couponing/sampling mamas out there have any advice on how you juggle it all please LET ME KNOW! 


    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Product Reviews from my Naturals VoxBox

    Not too long I received a VoxBox from Influenster. Influenster is a company that allows you to try and test new products. You fill out surveys on their page and they select you for boxes that would be best suited for your lifestyle. I was recently chosen to try out the Naturals VoxBox. It was full of wonderful natural products and products that support a green lifestyle. Here are a few of the items I have been trying so far!

    Lypsyl LypMoisturizer



    Created with pure Swedish beeswax, organic shea butter and vitamins A and E for long-lasting, deep-penetrating moisture and lip care protection. LypSyl Intense Protection LypMoisturizer™ helps moisturize, soften and protect your lips naturally. The unique one-hand slide allows for quick application. And, the oversize application tip ensures this ultra- light formula spreads evenly for better lip coverage. 
    I have been loving this product!  I have been a die hard Burt's fan for many many years.  It has always been my balm staple.  I haven't busted out that yellow tube since this bad boy arrived.  My first reaction was "Wow, this tube is HUGE!".  That is really my only complaint.  It does take up almost twice the size of a normal chapstick tube.  I think that the design helps the product stand out but maybe a less bulky package in the future would be more convenient.  I just toss it in my purse so it isn't a huge issue but  I know my husband wouldn't want to have this in his pocket all day.   The balm glides on effortlessly (which is a bonus if your lips are already chapped and sore).  Lypsyl never left a greasy, unpleasant residue on my lips.  I could feel it hydrating and healing without an intense burning.  Some of the other beeswax balms I have used are pretty strong but Lypsyl is mild enough that my 4 yr old doesn't mind it (BONUS!!).  
    Overall Opinion:  "Great balm bulky package. Way to go swedish bees!"
    Would I buy it:  "Yup, I sure would."

    The Original Dish Drying Mat


    The new solution to the age old tradition of placing dish towels on the counter when hand washing pots, pans, dishes and glassware. Hand washing dishes uses less water than conventional automated dish washers. 
    Using the dish drying mat also conserves energy by allowing dishes to air dry. 
    Product Details
    • Holds 4 times its weight in water
    • Cushions delicate dishes and stemware
    • Machine washable and highly durable
    • Folds and stores easily
    • Can be used in multiple ways including underneath your dish drying rack in place of the plastic drain board. Place it underneath your appliances (mixer, blender, etc.) to protect your counter top from scratches and scuffs. Also cleaning up big spills and messes normally cleaned with paper towels.
    In our home, we hand wash our dishes and have been doing so for quite some time.  I had gotten into a bit of a routine with it.  I also had come to a few conclusions.  One conclusion was:  Hand towels for drying dishes get yucky fast so I need to change them often.  This mat has blown this conclusion up.  The dish mat is soooo absorbent and you would think that it would be difficult to dry (which would mean you have a nice, stinky mat).  Not the case.  The little loop on the back of the mat makes it so easy to hang up and let air dry until your next round-o-dishes.  It also kept my counters from getting wet from water excess . . . .well . . .because there wasn't any water excess.  It absorbs all the water that runs off my hands and dishes.  You can pick this lifesaver up at Bed Bath & Beyond for only $4.99!!!!  Easily going to be the best five bucks you ever spent!
    Overall Opinion: "Where have you been all my life!!??"
    Would I buy it: "Yup, and plan to purchase the larger one too!"

    EBOOST


     EBOOST is a boost that does more. It’s a mood boost, focus boost, immunity boost, natural boost, a no-crash boost.
    EBOOST uses real ingredients, stuff you’ve heard of like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Green Tea, Vitamin B-12 and Folic Acid. And the stuff you might not have heard of: Quercetin, 5-HTP, Resveratrol, Huperzine-A — it’s all good too. What could be sweeter than that? Well, we even sweeten our product with Stevia, a plant, not a chemical.
    EBOOST is a powdered vitamin rich mix that you add to water to give you a boost.  When the powder hits the water it fizzes and bubbles.  Reminding almost of Alka-Seltzer.  The sample I received was the orange flavor.  I went into trying it very optimistic but was let down a bit.  The artificial orangy flavor was not my favorite and paired with the fizziness, totally reminded me medicine.  It was pretty chalky and overall unpleasant.  Probably much better if prepared as a shot.  I cannot say that I noticed a huge difference in my mental clarity or mood but I did feel like there was a slight pep in my step.  Not sure that the difference was worth the drink experience but there was some difference.  I did like getting a good dose of vitamin C.  With the cold season right around the corner we could all use an immunity boost!
    Overall Opinion: "EBOOST is E-yucky but was somewhat E-ffective."
    Would I buy it?: "No, I think I will pass on this one."

    Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Baby Eczema Bar Soap
    (phew! that was a mouthful!)


    This creamy, sulfate-free bar soap, enriched with luxurious natural and organic ingredients, is gentle enough for the sensitive skin of babies, children and adults. Use daily to cleanse and moisturize. Naturally soothes the symptoms associated with eczema such as inflammation, irritation and itching. Formulated with a special blend of unrefined, "raw" shea butter, argan oil, chamomile extract, frankincense and myrrh.
    My daughter has suffered from eczema since she was a baby.  Poor dear gets inflamed, red blotches all over.  The only thing we could ever use as a body wash was the Aveeno brand soaps.  Aveeno is a great brand but is really pricey.  Until this product I was a bit skeptical to try anything new.  I tried it out first and was really impressed.  I do not have eczema but I do like having my skin taken care of.  This soap lathered into a foamy delight.  It left my skin hydrated and so soft.  Not dry like other bars I have tried.  I also enjoyed the fragrance, very earthy and warm.  I was familiar with the wonderful properties of raw shea butter, coconut oil, and chamomile but hadn't tried Argan oil.   In this experience I would say I will be looking for it in future products I purchase.  Having such result from the soap I decided to try it on my daughter and it was great.  She didn't have an adverse reaction to it and the bath seemed to calm some of the redness she had on her tummy.  We have been using it for 4 baths now and we are hooked.  Not only is it effective (most important) but it is also very affordable ($4.99 a bar).  
    Overall Opinion: "Awesome product! I highly recommend to anyone.  Eczema or not, child or not."
    Would I buy it?: "I plan to replenish it the instant we run out!"

    Nectresse


    New NECTRESSE™ Sweetener tastes like sugar and is naturally zero calories per serving. How? We started with the deliciously sweet extract of monk fruit and combined it with the perfect blend of other natural sweeteners. It's 100% natural with nothing artificial. You're going to love the way it tastes.
    The voxbox came with 2 pks of the Nectresse Sweetener.  It is a natural sweetener that is made with monk fruit.  I always think it's fun to see companies exploring options for ingredients.  I tried this sweetener out in my morning tea and really enjoyed it.  It was pretty sweet but I didn't think it wasn't too overpowering.   I think this would be a cool item try out with some dessert recipes.  The price is fair and it is available at most shopping centers.
    Overall Opinion: "A great new natural sweetener."
    Would I buy it?: "Yeah, I can see myself buying this to have around the house."

    CleanWell


    And CleanWell doesn't use alcohol or benzalkonium chloride - so no concerns about dry skin, skin irritation, or irritating Mother Nature. Our all natural hand sanitizing wipes are great for hands (and faces) large and small.
    This awesome little packet has a ton of amazing pros!  First, they are so convenient.  You can purchase them in a box of 50 and they fit practically everywhere.  I kept mine in my wallet until a playdate at the park.  I imagine these would also be perfect for small first aid kits.  Second, they are all natural and totally safe for kiddos.  Wipes containing alcohol can irritate skin and are not a great product to use on the face.  These actually say on the package that they work great for hands or face and actually have a moisturizing property!  Way to go cleanwell!  And one of my favorite qualities is that they do not test on animals (just me lol).  I think it says a lot about a company when they are cruelty-free.  It shows compassion and love for our world :)  Only downside is they are a little on the pricey side ($29.99 for 50 pks).
    Overall Opinion: "Really enjoyed this one.  Seems worth the extra money for the quality product."
    Would I buy it?: "With the upcoming cold season I think this is in my future."

    GeoDeo Natural Deodorant


    Specially formulated to be safe for your body and your world. The base ingredients in GEODEO® are 100% natural, allergen-free, vegetable based and derived from renewable resources. Main ingredient approved by NPA and EcoCert. This deodorant contains no harmful aluminums, phthalates, parabens or propylene glycol. GEODEO® uses eco-technology to reduce greenhouse emissions and reduce energy consumed up to 50% compared to other deodorant sticks.
    Best thing about this deodorant . . . the fragrance!!  I got to try the "Island" fragrance and was whisked away to a tropical oasis.  Well maybe not whisked away but totally reminded of a tropical oasis.  I felt like the protection was decent.  I am not super active or an athlete but I did feel like for everyday use it kept me dry and smelling good.  I love using natural products in my personal care and this one is an awesome new product.  Most of the natural deodorants are unscented or very light fragrance so it is fun to try this product and shake things up a bit. I have not seen it anywhere local to me.  I am never a plan ahead kinda gal for deodorant so this is a bummer for me.
    Overall Opinion: "Great smelling and decent working natural deodorant."
    Would I buy it?: "If it was ever available locally I totally would."


    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Being Kind to Your Postal Worker

    I love getting free samples in the mail.  It makes everyday feel like Christmas!  My favorite days are the days when I open my mailbox and wonderful surprises come pouring out.  Something I have come to realize is that after I apply for my samples and kick back my postal worker's job has just started.  They are the ones responsible for making sure all my freebies and packages make it safely to me.

    We moved recently (not so fun when preggo BTW).  I did the responsible thing and had my mail forwarded early.  I really liked our old Mail Woman.  She was so thoughtful and patient with all my loot.  She really spoiled me.  SO much so that when I greeted our new mail man I felt disappointed that he wasn't as friendly as she had always been (if you currently have an awesome mail person, be GRATEFUL!).  His strictly business attitude scared me that may not be as considerate of treasures.

    At first I just whined about it to my hubby.  This, of course, did nothing to help the situation.  Then  one night it came to me . . . "I should leave him a nice note, introducing ourselves!".  I thought I was brilliant. Hubby thought I was crazy (this is pretty normal with my "aha!" moments lol).  So, I go to work.  Printing a cute little note and pasting it to some scrapbook paper in a very Celia fashion.  I decided to add a small care package of items I have gotten for free couponing and that I felt a postal worker could use (small hand sani, tissues, candy bar, and sunflower seeds).  The letter explained that I would be getting a lot of mail and pre-thanking them for their hard work.



    The result was amazing!  The next day he came to the door and we arranged a place for packages when I am not home.  He has been so nice and really helpful.  So, here is the moral of my story.  Be kind to your postal worker!  You can never go wrong with a random act of kindness.  Whether you have a great relationship or no relationship with your mail person a small note can really make a difference.  

    Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Sweet & Spicy Baked Beans

    Beans, beans, the magical fruit.  The more ya eat, the more ya . . . well . . . .you know.  While we all know gas is an unpleasant side effect of the tasty lil' treasures we still eat enjoy every spoonful.  In our house we always have canned beans, pork n beans, baked beans, and chili on hand.  I have always had aspirations of making my own but for some reason I felt really intimidated.  So, I did a little research on cooking beans, gathered my favorite baked bean flavors, and went to town.  Turns out bean town is easy to get to and sooo worth making your own!


    Sweet & Spicy Beans
    • 1lb bag of dried white beans 
    • 1 ham hock (you could use bacon or ham if opposed to "hockin" it up)
    • 1 white onion, diced
    • 1 green bell pepper, diced
    • 1 jalepeno, sliced (i remove seeds to keep the heat down but feel free to crank it up!)
    • 1 cup molasses
    • 3/4 cup ketchup
    • tbsp liquid smoke
    • tbsp salt
    • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
    I am really sorry for the lack of pictures!!!  I had a total pregnant moment and barely remembered to snap any before I wolfed it down!
    Start by soaking the beans. The, pour beans in a bowl and pick out any debris or funky beans. Cover with about 3 inches of water and let sit on the counter for 3-4 hrs (I didn't soak overnight and it the beans cooked beautifully). Dump beans lovingly into a strainer and rinse.  Transfer to a large pot or dutch oven, fill with water 2 inches above beans, and add the ham hock (or ham/bacon). Cover and let simmer for about 2 hours.  While the beans are simmering cut up veggies.  In a small bowl add the molasses, ketchup, and liquid smoke.  Mix well and taste (adjust to your liking).  Stir the veggies and sauce into the beans.  Add salt n peppa and start to shoop.  And by shoop I mean combine well and cover for additional 1 1/2 to 2 hrs (I was hip in the 90's, word to yo mutha).  You can tell it's done when the beans are tender and swimming in a delicious, thick gravy.  I served it over Johnny Cake but feel free to eat yo beans how you like.