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!!

AUTUMN APPLE BUTTER

apple-butter

I love anything with apples. And this is the time of year I love to play around with apple recipes. The smell of the warm spices and apples, bubbling over on the stove is simply divine! This recipe is a spin-off of my Harvest Apple Butter recipe I did a few years ago. I just tweaked a few things and pureed the final recipe. This is not your traditional dark apple butter, since I left out the clove. And I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen this holiday season. I am really trying to be more in the moment with my family.

You can slather this smooth and creamy butter on toast, pancakes, waffles, ice cream or even just eat it out of the bowl. You can even make it chunky by not blending it. My husband and son devoured a small portion right out of a bowl. But I’m saving the rest for chilly mornings, when I make toast or pancakes for my hungry guys.

I hope you are enjoying your holidays with your families and created warm and loving memories to cherish!

Ingredients:

5 organic gala apples

1 bartlett pear

1/4 cup filtered water

1 Tbs coconut butter (also called manna I got mine at Whole Foods)

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 Tbs pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

Couple dashes of ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Peel, core and cut the apples and the pear into large chunks.

Add the fruit, water, cinnamon and ginger to a medium sauce pan and cook on medium-high for about 30 minutes. Stir the mixture several times while it simmers, so the fruit doesn’t stick to the pan.

Add the lemon juice, coconut butter and maple syrup and let it simmer for about another 10 minutes. If the heat is too high, lower it so it doesn’t burn. Stir a few times to keep it from sticking.

Blend the mixture or just smash it up to the consistency desired. I used an immersion blender, but you can also use a blender or food processor. This was easier clean up for me!

Spread it on a warm piece of toast, smile and enjoy!

 

 

 

READY FOR ANYTHING – A HEALTHY MOM’S TIPS FOR HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS

hurricane-preparedness

Preparing for a hurricane can actually be affordable and healthy. When a hurricane is coming your way, what do you think of? Batteries, water, canned foods and candles!! I always cringe when I see the foods available to consume, in the mass chaos of preparing for a hurricane. Chef Boyardee, Campbell’s soup, cheese and crackers in a package, and a myriad of other processed foods. I confess, I was freaking out (a little) yesterday when Hurricane Matthew seemed to veer a little more westward as he progressed further north. So what does a concerned momma do? Take a food and water inventory. Here are some great emergency foods your family can eat without compromising quality and still not break the bank!

  • Nut butters! You don’t have to refrigerate and they are loaded with protein.
  • Coconut manna (for me since I am on a Candida detox 🙂
  • Popcorn! Pop it in advance and put in large ziplock bags. Flavor with your own spices.
  • Carton plant-based milk – doesn’t have to be refrigerated until you use.
  • Protein shake mix!!! Why didn’t I think of this before! No refrigeration or blender necessary!
  • Canned tuna by Wild Planet and Wild Alaskan Salmon (I get both from Costco!)
  • Organic apples or any other fruit you don’t need to refrigerate.
  • Nuts, Lara bars or any other clean eating bars.
  • Coconut water – Most people reach for water, however coconut water is more hydrating with the electrolytes.
  • Don’t forget paper plates, paper towels, utensils and trash bags!

And last but definitely not least, my doTERRA essential oils! I could not feel more empowered in an emergency, than having my family wellness kit!! We are ready for anything from digestive issues, stress/fear of the storm, skin irritations, better sleep to muscle discomfort. Even our dog is covered!

We are praying for everyone’s safety, especially Haiti and the other islands. Please share any great tips you may have preparing for the storm!

CRUNCHY SALMON PATTIES

salmon-patties

I love salmon! It’s one of my favorite proteins. It’s easy to make and loaded with so many nutrients such as Omega 3’s for healthy brain function, B12, potassium and selenium to help support your overall health. My godmother gave me one of her delicious secret recipes for salmon patties. I tweaked it and put my own twist on it. I posted this pic on my Instagram page several weeks ago, so here is the recipe as promised! My godmother baked her salmon, but I wanted a little more crunch and it was 97 degrees outside, so I fried mine in avocado oil. It’s also gluten-free and Paleo-friendly! Woohoo!!!

Make sure to purchase only wild caught salmon, not farmed. Farmed salmon is very toxic. The farmers use pesticides to ward off sea lice and antibiotics to fight infection, due to the overcrowded fish farms. Farmed salmon are also given a pigment to enhance their lack of color, called canthaxanthin. This ingredient has been found to negatively affect the pigment of the eye retina. When you consume these fish, you consume these toxins. And they don’t leave your body naturally.

Ingredients:

3 cans of wild caught salmon

2 eggs

1/4 cup almond meal

1 celery stalk + leaves, chopped

2 inches of a leek, chopped

3 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbs Mayo ( I use Just mayo)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp sea salt

Juice of 1/2 a lime (or lemon)

1 Tbs Avocado oil (more if needed + you can use any high smoke point oil)

 

Preparation:

Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat. (Prepping this recipe doesn’t take long, so I usually start heating up my cast iron pan once I have gathered my ingredients.)

Drain salmon and place in a large mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients (except avocado oil) and mix well.

Add the avocado oil to the pan and let it warm up for about 20 seconds.

Gently form the mixture into small patties. It will seem a little too wet, but it firms up once you start frying them. I make the patties as I cook them, that way I don’t worry about them losing shape as they are sitting out. I yielded five large patties with this recipe.

Immediately place the patties into the frying pan. Cook until golden brown and flip over and cook the other side for about the same time. It only took me about 3-4 minutes on each side. They cooked pretty fast in my cast iron pan.

Enjoy over a nice bed of greens and squeeze some extra lime juice before over the fish, before serving. I made some steamed broccoli for my little guy and he devoured it!

Bon appetite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TUNA SALAD WITH A KICK

Tuna Salad PostThe weather is still quite scorching down here in Florida. Anyone else still sweating profusely as you walk outside? So I like to keep our meals a little light. Lunch is always a challenge for me to get creative, so I resorted to an old fashioned recipe with a little twist. Tuna fish salad isn’t something I eat often, but do get a craving for once in a while. I tweaked this recipe from my godmother’s famous tuna salad. It is hands-down, one of the best I’ve ever had. Her secret to an upscale, mouth-watering tuna salad is nutmeg and horseradish! It gives it a nice kick with a smidgeon (as my godmother would say) of these two ingredients. Who knew! I added celery seed and lime essential oil to give the flavor more depth. This really took it to a new level of flavor!

I made this for my husband and he loves to eat it with crackers. I like to hollow out cucumbers and make little tuna fish “boats”. No pun untended here folks! You can even garnish them with a little tomato.

Ingredients:

3 cans Wild Planet tuna (our local Costco carries it)

1/2 sweet onion, diced

2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped

5 Tbs mayonnaise (I use Just Mayo)

1 1/2 tsp horseradish

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp celery seed

3 drops pure lime essential oil

Salt + Pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. It seems to taste better when you let the salad sit, so the flavors can marry. If you are famished, then just enjoy immediately. 🙂

Enjoy!