PB + Jam French Toast

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It’s a new season in our home in so many ways. The weather is cooling off, we are back in a daily groove for a new school year, and my son is venturing on his own in the kitchen! He is coming into his own independence, and he is expressing it through making some of his own meals. The best part is his initiative to do it on his own, albeit with a little help here and there.

Today, I made a quick and simple raspberry jam to go with breakfast, instead of the usual maple syrup. I’m trying to cut back on sugar for everyone. My little guy wanted French toast with a creative twist. So, he made a peanut butter sandwich and then cut it up into strips to create French toast “sticks”. There’s just something fun about eating a meal without utensils for kids!

Here’s the recipe for both the jam and French toast sticks.

Jam Ingredients:

1 cup organic raspberries

2 Tbs filtered water

1 Tbs raw honey

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Splash of lemon juice

Preparation:

Add raspberries and water to a small sauce pan and cook on medium-high until the berries start to boil. Cook for a few more minutes and stir occasionally, so the berries don’t burn or stick to the bottom of the sauce pan. Add the honey, vanilla, and lemon juice and then mix well. This is when your kitchen starts smelling divine! Let it cook a couple of more minutes and then set aside.

French Toast Ingredients:

2 slices organic whole grain bread (we prefer gluten-free bread)

1 free-range organic egg

1/4 cup plant-based milk

1-2 Tbs organic peanut butter (my guy lives extra peanut butter)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 dashes ground cinnamon

1 dash ground nutmeg

1/2 Tbs organic coconut oil

Preparation:

Add the egg, milk, vanilla and spices in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Preheat a medium-sized pan on medium-high and then add the coconut oil to the pan. Meanwhile, spread the peanut butter on the two pieces of bread to make a sandwich, and then cut into four strips. Dip the sticks into the egg mixture and place into the pan. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. I also helped him cook the strips on all four sides. It seems like a bit more work, but they come out really good!

Spoon a few tablespoons of the berry jam into a little container for dipping, or just spread it over the French toast and serve! My son gobbled this up and requested more for tomorrow!

BERRY BEETIFUL SMOOTHIE

Okay, I could not resist this pun! I recently made a delicious berry + beet juice and the inspiration was from a drink I grabbed from Whole Foods’ juice bar the other day. Beets help purify your liver and blood. And since I have been feeling a bit stagnant, I thought beets would be a good base for a detox juice. These ruby beauties contain vitamins A + C, B6, and folate, not to mention minerals such as potassium, magnesium, manganese and calcium.  Beets are high in sugar. One cup is about 9 grams of sugar, so use them in moderation. I only used a 1/4 cup of my beet juice blend for my smoothie and then diluted it with coconut water. The greens really help offset the sugar content.

And don’t forget to use the leaves of the beet root! I recently discovered that beet greens have more iron than spinach! So don’t discard the leaves when juicing! This beauty elixir was a labor of love since there is a two-step process. First, I made the beet juice and then I used some of it for my smoothie. Use organic when possible! I found the ginger and lemon or lime, help cut the earthy flavor of beets!

Beet Juice Ingredients + Instructions: (Juice these ingredients in a juicer)

2 organic beets, washed and cut into quarters

leaves of the beets

1 organic Granny Smith apple, quartered

1 organic cucumber, cut off ends

1 organic zucchini, cut off ends

1 head of organic romaine lettuce, washed + cut off ends  (I used the prepared one in the 3-pack)

1 organic lemon or lime

1-2  inches of fresh ginger

Pour into a glass jar and seal tightly with a lid. (This helps keep it fresh, longer.)

Smoothie Ingredients:

1/4 cup of the homemade beet juice

1/4 cup coconut water (add more if needed to blend mixture)

1/2 cup organic blueberries

1/2 cup organic strawberries, cut off stems

1/2 frozen banana, cut into large chunks (omit if sugar is an issue)

**If your berries aren’t frozen, you may want to add a little ice for a nice smoothie consistency.

Blend until smooth, in a high-powered blender like a Blendtec.

I add a drop of doTERRA lime essential oil to my smoothie. It really adds a deeper citrus flavor and compliments the beet and ginger flavors!

Enjoy!

 

WATERMELON + LIME POPSICLES

Watermelon Popsickles

July is National Watermelon Month and I have been wanting to make these for a while, so this is an opportune time for a nice, juicy popsicle! I had a sweet, ripe watermelon and wanted to add a little zing to it, so I added a fresh lime. You could also add a couple drops of lime essential oil to really bring out the lime flavor!

Watermelon doesn’t just taste good, it also has some great health benefits! This delicious fruit contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It’s about 92 percent water, so it is a great way to stay hydrated. Watermelon also contains Vitamins A, B6 and C, magnesium and potassium. The lime helps digestion, blood sugar levels, constipation and even heart disease!

This was an easy treat to make so you shouldn’t spend too much time in the kitchen. And it’s kid-approved so it makes a great healthful treat.

Ingredients:

4 cups of ripe watermelon

1 lime

Dash of sea salt

2 drops of lime essential oil (optional)

Preparation:

Add all of the ingredients into a blender and puree. Pour into the popsicle containers and freeze overnight. Enjoy this cool, refreshing treat the next day!

 

GARAM MASALA BEEF + VEGETABLE BOWL

Do you ever get in a cooking “funk” and get bored with your regular weekly cooking ideas? Well, this recipe was a result of overcoming my cooking doldrums, and it seemed to go over quite well with the family! I wanted a different flavor than just my usual garlic and onions, so why not Indian flavors? My first Indian dish experience was in DC with my husband, when we were first dating. The fragrant spices, with a hint of heat, cooled down with rich, creamy coconut milk. Ahhhhh!!!!

I didn’t use coconut milk in this dish. I didn’t want a creamy sauce with the beef. This dish is a great high protein-low carb meal and even GAPS-friendly. I will be making this recipe again!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

2 cups green beans, trimmed

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 container baby bella mushrooms, diced

3 large carrots, diced

1/2 cup bone broth

5 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 Tbs garam masala

2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 head of cauliflower, riced (I also get mine pre-cut at Trader Joe’s in the produce section)

Preparations:

In a large pan, saute onions on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. Add beef and brown for a couple of minutes and then mix in garlic and spices. Let cook for about five minutes then add the green beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Next, add the mushrooms and bone broth and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until the mushrooms have cooked down. The last thing to add will be the riced cauliflower. The cauliflower takes on whatever flavors you have in your dish, so I like to mix it thoroughly. If your carrots and green beans are still a little too crunchy, just cook the mixture a little longer for your desired texture. I don’t like mushy vegetables, so these times worked well for me.

SIMPLE SUMMER PARFAITS

Summer is around the corner and the weather is confirming this with hot and humid days! I am finding myself choosing cooler foods and yoga as exercise to help endure this weather. I found an amazing yoga studio here in North Palm Beach called Power Yoga Tribe. The community is like family and the instructors/owners, Preston and Christen have some serious love and talent for yoga! Preston’s birthday was coming up and I love to cook for others, so I created a quick and easy summer parfait. I just used a cute little mason jar and layered my cultured yogurt recipe with fresh organic fruit. The cultured yogurt has an amazing taste compared to store-bought and it provides amazing benefits for your gut health.

You can store the parfaits in the fridge for several days but mine were gone the same day. This makes a quick and easy snack that even your kids will love! There are so many things you can do with yogurt in the summer. Keep checking back to see other great recipes I am creating for my family.

Ingredients:

1 cup cultured yogurt (you can use store-bought)

1 tsp raw honey or pure maple syrup

Dash of cinnamon

1 cup of blueberries, raspberries or diced strawberries (whatever you prefer!)

Preparation:

Add a heaping spoon of yogurt to the jar, enough to cover the bottom completely. Add choice of fruit, enough to cover the yogurt. Keep alternating yogurt and fruit until you fill the jar. I topped mine off with fruit for a visual effect. Cover tightly and store in the fridge.

Do you have any great ideas for yogurt? Please share and post to our community!

 

 

SAGE + BUTTERNUT SQUASH FRITTATA

Frittata

I wanted to explore some new breakfast recipes and butternut squash is a GAPS-friendly ingredient, so I incorporated it into a frittata. To make it fun, I spiralized the butternut squash. It also made it easier to spread it out evenly in the pan. Sage seems to compliment this winter squash well and the goat cheese really brings everything together. And of course bacon goes with anything and my husband requested it in the recipe.

We didn’t miss the crust since this dish had so many great flavors and it was quite satisfying. Carbs are one of my biggest weaknesses. So anytime I can make my tastebuds happy sans carbs, I feel I have conquered the craving monster!

Ingredients:

1/2 butternut squash (non-bulbous end), peeled and spiralized

6 pieces bacon (nitrate + msg-free)

6 eggs, beaten

3 oz goat cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 sage leaves

1/4 tsp sage powder

Salt + pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook on medium-high until almost done in a medium-sized cast iron pan (or one you can put in the oven).

Next add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute.

Then add the squash and saute for about 3 minutes.

Add half of the goat cheese in tiny dollops over the mixture.

Mix in the sage powder, salt and pepper into the eggs and mix well then pour over squash mixture.

Add the remaining goat cheese over the mixture and place the sage leaves on top.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden on top.

 

CREAMY CAULIFLOWER + MEATBALL SOUP (GAPS-FRIENDLY)

This recipe is our family’s new favorite dish! I could make this every week and my guys would be happy. The combination of the meatballs and hearty veggies, can satisfy anyone. You really don’t miss the carbs. I used my homemade bone broth to make this dish really gut-healing and flavorful. I also added more water since you cook the meatballs in the soup and I wanted a large batch for leftovers. You can adjust the water to how much broth you prefer in your soup. Cooking the meatballs in the broth makes them moist and the veggies come out perfectly tender with a little crunch in the kale!

I pureed some of the cauliflower to add more depth to the broth. This recipe is adapted from a meatball recipe in the cookbook “The Heal Your Gut Cookbook“. If you are looking for great GAPS recipes, this is the book to have in your kitchen. I made a huge pot for leftovers. Cook once, eat twice!!!

Ingredients:

1 lb organic ground beef

1 lb ground pork (organic if possible)

2 eggs

1 qt homemade beef bone broth

3 cups filtered water

1 head cauliflower, chopped

1 bunch of kale (about 8-10 large leaves), chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 8 oz container baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 large sweet onion, sliced

5 cloves garlic, minced (divide in half)

2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp ground pepper

Preparation:

Cut all of your vegetables before you begin this dish. You can even cut them the night before or earlier in the day to save time.

Add a little broth to a very large stock pot, just enough to saute half of your garlic. Cook garlic on medium-high for a couple of minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add the rest of the broth and turn up heat to bring broth to a boil.

In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, eggs, other half of minced garlic, all of the spices and mix well. Make about 1 inch meatballs and place on a tray. I use a small ice cream scoop to make my meatballs.

Once your broth is boiling, add the cauliflower and cook until fork-tender. Next, turn down heat to medium-high and puree half of your cauliflower. I use an immersion blender and just blend some of the cauliflower.

Add the meatballs one by one to the pot. Next add the carrots, onions, kale and mushrooms. Cook for about 20 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste. The broth and meatballs already have a lot of flavor, so we didn’t need to add more seasoning. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOMEMADE INSTANT POT YOGURT

yogurt-and-raspberries

I have another reason to love my Instant Pot. Yogurt!!!!! I have always wanted to make yogurt but it seemed so intimidating to attempt this task. But with the GAPS diet, it is highly recommended to eat homemade yogurt. It’s like a staple in the menu! So I perused through my wonderful Facebook group of Instant Pot mamas and found some great tips and recipes to glean from, to make yogurt. You can find great video tutorial here by Freida and Cheryl is the master of yogurt tips and recipes here. I HIGHLY recommend you read over both before attempting to make your own yogurt. You will thank me later!

My first batch was a failure due to a faulty thermometer. But my second batch was a hit and I made more batches with great success! I can’t believe how easy this was with my Instant Pot! I start this process about an hour before bed so it can cook overnight. Here is the basic recipe everyone uses and my instructions.

Ingredients:

1 half gallon of organic or grass-fed pasteurized whole milk

2 Tbs organic plain Greek yogurt

Tips:

Make sure your yogurt is NOT ultra pasteurized. It’s not recommended and it didn’t work for me!

I HIGHLY recommend whole milk. Don’t skimp on the fat, it will compromise the taste.

Get PLAIN yogurt for best results. Besides, who needs the extra sugar and if it contains too much sugar it can mess up the culturing process.

Make sure your yogurt has “live and active cultures” listed on the back. You need these in order to “start” the culturing process of your yogurt. Are you beginning to see the science in this process?

I get the small, individual containers for my yogurt. Once you open the container, the cultures begin to die off, causing it to lose its efficacy in creating cultures for your new yogurt. Once you start making your own, you can use the yogurt from your own batch to make more. Just make sure the yogurt isn’t more than 5 to 7 days old.

Kitchen Accoutrements Needed:

Instant Pot

Digital Thermometer

Ladle

Wire whisk

Cup (for mixing starter yogurt with 1 cup of scalded milk)

Large bowl (for an ice bath and then straining yogurt)

Large colander (for straining yogurt – optional)

Tea cloth, cheese cloth or coffee filters (to strain yogurt – optional)

 

Preparation:

STEP ONE: WARMING THE MILK

Pour the milk into the inner pot in the Instant Pot.

Place and lock the lid and make sure the valve is moved to the “SEAL” position.

Press the YOGURT button and then quickly press the ADJUST button until you see the word BOIL on the display. This will slowly scald your milk. (Takes about 30 minutes.) Meanwhile, go and read over the instructions five times like I did and watch Frieda’s video two more times to be sure you know what the heck you’re doing!

Take out the starter yogurt and place in a cup to get at room temperature. I use a Pyrex measuring cup so I don’t have to worry about the heat of the milk when I mix it together.

When the cycle is complete, the timer will beep. Don’t panic. Just make sure your digital thermometer is in reaching distance and unlock and remove the lid. Try to open and then lift back the lid quickly to avoid the water getting into your yogurt.

STEP TWO: COOLING THE MILK

Place the thermometer in the milk and it should read about 180 degrees or higher. I have never had it below that temperature, so this has never been a problem for me thus far. Remove the thermometer and the “skin” of the milk with a spoon or whatever works for you and then prepare an ice bath for the inner pot to cool down the milk. I use an avocado smasher from Pampered Chef to remove the skin. It works really well! Don’t laugh!

Press the CANCEL button to turn off the Instant Pot.

Place the inner pot of milk into the ice bath. This is a VERY FAST cool down for the milk, so make sure you stir it continually with the whisk to avoid “hot spots” in the milk. This only takes about five minutes or less! Once your thermometer reads between 110 to 115 degrees, immediately remove the pot from the ice bath and dry off the bottom of the pot with a towel. (If you cool our yogurt down too much, you can warm it back up a little by using the SAUTE button. Just CANCEL the yogurt cycle and then press SAUTE. Once it warms up, cancel the cycle again.)

Add about half a cup of warm milk to your starter yogurt and whisk until well blended. Add it back to your pot of milk and gently stir it with the whisk. Make sure you don’t scrape the whisk on the bottom of the pot! A film of milk is created on the bottom of the pot during the scalding step and it can affect the smoothness of your final yogurt.

STEP THREE: CULTURING THE YOGURT

If you have managed to heat and cool down your milk accordingly, the hard part is over! At this point, you place the inner pot back into the Instant Pot and lock the lid back on. Make sure the valve is turned to the seal position.

Press the YOGURT button again and hit the “+” button until you see 8:00 appear. (This stands for 8 hours of cooking time.) Pat yourself on the back for totally conquering the yogurt making process! Now go take a bath with some Epsom salt and lavender essential oil and get ready for bed. Tomorrow morning you will wake up to a pot full of delicious nourishing yogurt!

STEP FOUR: STRAINING THE YOGURT (OPTIONAL)

I love Greek yogurt so I always strain mine. If you like a runny yogurt then once the cycle is done you can just spoon the yogurt into a large container. I use mason jars for mine. Try not to scrape the bottom of the pot to avoid the milk film.

If you want Greek yogurt, then you want to get out your colander to strain your yogurt. I place the colander in the large bowl and then place a tea towel to strain mine. I have used coffee filters in the past and they worked very well but I found them cumbersome and it was annoying when they would move around when I was pouring the yogurt into the colander.

Cover the bowel with a large plate or any cover will do and place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. The longer it strains, the thicker your yogurt. I did it overnight once and I found it to be too thick for me.

I keep my yogurt plain in the mason jar so I can use it in different ways. I use it with fruit, granola, smoothies and even sauces. My son’s favorite way to eat it is with a little honey, vanilla extract and fresh fruit. I hope you enjoy your new world of yogurt!

yogurt

 

 

OUR NOURISHING LIFE + THE GAPS DIET

nourishing-journey-post

I am on a quest to enjoy a nourishing life on so many levels. The past ten years of my life have been a quest to attain a healthy physical, emotional and spiritual state. Can any of you relate? Ever since the birth of my son, it has been a struggle to “bounce back” and reach my pre-baby weight and just feel “healthy”. This road has been frustrating, discouraging, exhausting, challenging and well the list could go on.

However, through these challenges, I have also learned so much about my health, how food and even environment affect our health. If it weren’t for my issues, I may have never learned how to live a holistic lifestyle. I’m trying to focus on the glass being half full 🙂 I would not be aware of all of the things that help a child with special needs. I believe that God aligned my health challenges to help prepare me for my future, to care for my son, and to help educate others. I love how God turns beauty from ashes. How He uses our trials to help others and glorify His name.

Well it’s a new year so it’s a new adventure for our family. In spite of my trepidation, I have finally braved the journey to put our family on a GAPS diet. Why would I chose to take on such a task of cooking so many things? Our health. Do I feel like taking on new ways of cooking that will consume much of my time? Not really. However, with my suspected autoimmune issues, my struggle to attain a healthy physical state, my son’s special needs and my husband and I in our mid to late 40s, I want to be proactive and not reactive to our family’s healthcare needs. And I am not depending on modern medicine or our healthcare system to be the advocate for our well being. And the GAPS diet was highly recommended by my son’s therapist Kay Ness. So that was the final decision maker for me.

The GAPS diet is used to naturally heal chronic inflammation in the digestive tract and helps with neurological and autoimmune issues. Through a protocol of stages of certain foods, it will give your body the opportunity to naturally heal and seal any damaged gut lining. Your immune system is linked to the gut. If you have an unhealthy gut, this can affect so many other aspects of your health. Picture your gut as the very core of your body’s functions.

I noticed a change in my immune system when I started having chronic eczema. The doctor prescribed me a steroid cream and sent me on my way. After much research and inquiries, I learned how the gut affects your skin, thyroid, immune system, mood, energy levels and so much more. I also discovered how certain foods “triggered” my eczema. It was crazy how quickly my skin reacted to foods.

So fast-forward three years later and here we are. I must confess, this diet is intimidating. There are so many preparation steps in planning a successful GAPS journey. Planning menus, shopping, budgeting, prepping bone broths, yogurt, and fermented foods. I feel that I will be living in my tiny kitchen! I have to be diligent in my planning and forgiving in my mistakes or failures. (I’ve already flopped on making my first batch of yogurt but figured it out on the second run.) It’s going to be a learning curve but I am looking forward to the new healing foods I will be preparing for my family.

I have already created several nourishing and savory recipes, so I will be posting them soon! I am spending so much time in the kitchen, I am not having time to post my recipes. I am using an amazing cookbook called Heal Your Gut Cookbook. It is very user-friendly and the recipes are great! As I learn along this journey, I will share my recipes, tips and even struggles with you. Have you every tried the GAPS diet? If so, I would appreciate any tips or great recipes that work for you and your family!

I am looking forward in sharing this journey with you!

SATURDAY FRITTATA

fritatta

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! Our family went up to Georgia to spend time with family and get some much needed rest. Then we returned and got hit really hard with a nasty bug! We are on the mend now and looking forward to getting back to our daily routines.

So I finally found the picture that goes with this recipe, so now I can share it with you! I love making a big breakfast for my family on the weekends. I love to let my husband sleep in and wake up to the smell of bacon, fresh brewed coffee and whatever recipe I am creating in the kitchen. My husband works really hard during the week, so one of my “love-languages” is “acts of service”, so cooking is a way I like to express my love for him. I recently made this delicious, yet Candida-friendly, vegetable frittata for breakfast. If you aren’t on any food restrictions, it would go nicely with some whole-grain or gluten-free toast!

If you have a cast-iron pan, well drag it out of your cabinet or drawer and let’s get cooking! I don’t know about you, but cast-iron pans weigh a ton, so I literally drag mine out every time I use it! I chose asparagus for something different in my morning eggs and I was quite impressed with the benefits of these little green trees. They contain antioxidants, vitamin B12, high in amino acids, and are loaded with vitamins A, C, K, fiber and folate. How good is that?

Here is what I threw together to make this yummy frittata:

5 eggs, scrambled

10 asparagus spears, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1/2 red pepper, diced

4 green onions, diced

1/3 cup of goat cheese

Salt + Pepper to taste

1 Tbs Ghee (can find in health food stores)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up a medium-sized cast iron pan (or any pan that can go into the oven), on medium-high.

Add the ghee and then the asparagus and the red pepper. Saute for about 2 minutes.

Then add the green onions and cook for about a minute.

Next, add the scrambled eggs, salt and pepper to taste, and evenly spread the goat cheese over the mixture. I picked a firmer goat cheese, so it was easy to break apart.

Let the pan sit on the stove for a few minutes to cook the bottom part of the frittata.

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes. You don’t want to overcook it. Eggs keep cooking once you take them off of the heat.

Enjoy!!