Sunday, September 16, 2012

Under the Weather (and a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup)

We've been feeling a little under the weather here lately so I thought this would be a good time to share my favorite cold and flu remedies. I wish I could say we never get sick bc I am such a baby about being sick, I just hate it it always feels like such a waste of time. I have to remind myself that times of illness are really just a time to strengthen and build my immune system and submit to the rest my body needs and unfortunately gets deprived of in everyday life. Here's my arsenal of remedies to help us feel better when we have "the crud":

-Broth broth and more broth!!! (I add a spoonful of coconut oil and a clove of 
 pressed garlic to each cup as well)
-Probiotics, in both pill and food form.
-Fermented Cod Liver oil
-My "should kill it all" tea which consists of organic ginger tea, a slice of 
 fresh ginger, a few drops of thieves oil, a spoon full of coconut oil, a splash 
 of apple cider vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a clove of crushed 
 garlic, and a touch of raw honey.
-Hot (as hot as you can stand) baths with Epsom salts, hydrogen peroxide, 
 crushed garlic and ginger essential oil (or fresh ginger pressed)
-Humidifier with essential oils (Raven, which is a blend by Young Living for a 
 dry cough or eucalyptus oil, and/or Thieves which you can also buy as a 
 blend from Young Living but its much cheaper to buy the individual oils from 
 another reputable company and make it yourself.)
-Chicken or turkey and veggie soup of course :) I like to add some coconut oil 
 and additional fresh pressed garlic to each bowl for added antiviral/antibiotic 
-Butternut squash soup (Recipe below)
-Homemade cough, congestion and sore throat syrup (honey, whiskey, dry 
 peppermint,  horehound, slippery elm, thyme, cinnamon and sage)
-Thieves Lozenges (bought from Young Living)
-Hot and cold showers
-Super tonic, which you can buy (Dr. Schultz brand) but also cheaper to make  
 yourself and super easy too.
-Yin Chao (Plum Flower brand) and Yin Chao Jr. (Health Concerns brand)
-Elderberry Tincture (also most affordable to make yourself)
-onion poultices, so soothing for coughs and helps to break up congestion
-garlic, as much you can stand both raw and cooked.
-SLEEP, as much as possible!! Which is always harder for mom than anyone 
 else but so crucial for our bodies to heal!
-Did I mention broth ? ;)

Just an note here regarding Young Living oils... In my opinion they are good oils and products for the most part. I do buy a couple of their blends (Raven and RC) and their Thieves lozenges regularly. My husband LOVES their toothpaste but my homemade works just as well (I think better but he disagrees) and theirs is VERY expensive. We do buy it for him just bc I love him ;). I also love their thieves mouth wash but as far as the oils go, they are expensive, even if you are a distributor, and in my experience of no better quality than several other reputable companies out there who's oils are much more affordable.

Butternut Squash Soup
-1 large Butternut squash cooked
-about 4-6 cups chicken or turkey broth (add as much as you like to achieve 
 the desired consistency for your soup, amount will vary of course depending 
 upon the size of the squash)
-5-6 large cloves garlic
-bit of honey to taste
-good slice of a sweet onion
- a couple good sized chucks of fresh ginger pressed through a garlic press or 
  a few drops of ginger essential oil
-good large table spoonful of coconut oil
-salt to taste (I prefer Himalayan but any good quality sea salt is fine too)

puree all with immersion blender and simmer (while stirring frequently) until flavors are nicely melded together

This soup is so simple (which is nice when your sick and don't have extra energy for cooking), has only a few ingredients, its super nourishing and so warm comforting when your not feeling well. It's a good way for me to get a good amount of garlic into my little ones who don't take the raw garlic as well as myself or my big kiddos.

Since having children (my eldest will be 13 soon) by Gods grace, there hasn't been any bug to hit us that these remedies and time have not been able to concur.  Bc there is evidence that even one round of your average antibiotics will irreparably destroy your gut flora for life, it is crucial to me that my kiddos (and my husband and I) avoid them at all costs. As a child and even as a young adult before having children I was on antibiotics regularly (My parents nor I, didn't know any better at the time) and I'm convinced that antibiotics are one of the main contributors to many of my health troubles today and also to the many many allergy and asthma troubles I struggled with as a child. I pray that by having been able to avoid antibiotic use my children will be blessed with better health throughout their lives.

What are your favorite natural tips and tricks for cold and flu season?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

GAPS Gharam Crackers! (Gluten, dairy, grain and egg free)

After an exceptionally long hard summer this yr for all of us due to my husbands busy summer schedule we are all overflowing with excitement that we will soon get to take a family camping trip!!!! If feels like we've been waiting forever to have some family time together and can hardly count the days fast enough until we get to go :)

As I've been planning, making lists and thinking mostly about what food to bring I just could hardly imagine a camping trip without s'mores. I have a GAPS legal marshmallow recipe we've used for roasting and the chocolate is easy but had not yet played with any graham cracker recipes. I'm delighted to say that the following recipe is as close to perfect as I can imagine. I am so excited about it I can hardly wait to make a cheesecake with a real graham cracker crust!! That will have to wait until after camping though ;)

Here's what I did....

mix together:
 4 cups almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bkng soda
1/2 cup coconut oil (I think butter would work if one were allergic to coconut oil but maybe decrease the 
     salt a bit if using butter)
1/3 ish cup honey (or to taste)
6 TBLS cinnimon

Press and/or roll dough onto a parchment paper covered, flat, baking sheet to about 1/8" thickness (if rolling you will want to cover dough with parchment paper on top before rolling or it will stick terribly to your rolling pin). Score into squares and prick with fork and bake at 350 until edges turn brown. Remove from oven and cut into squares, let cool, if any are still soft or chewy, dehydrate until all the moisture is gone and they are nice and crispy (if you don't own a dehydrator you could do this in your oven on its lowest setting). My poor baking sheets are pretty warped so my crackers weren't as evenly rolled as I would have liked and some of the thicker spots needed a bit of dehydrating. I'd imagine if you had nice flat bkng sheets and your dough was evenly spread the need for dehydrating would be eliminated.

They were super easy, the kiddos love them and we will have GAPS legal s'mores for our camping trip :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zucchini Chips

We've begun harvesting zucchini from the garden and I planted lots this yr as summer squashes are one of my favorite veggies to preserve for use throughout the yr. I dehydrate them shredded and also in sliced rounds to throw into soups, stews, casseroles or baked goods. I also "noodle" a bunch with my spiral slicer and dehydrate them to use as noodles too. Personally I think zucchini noodles that have been dehydrated are much more "real noodle" like than fresh raw zucchini noodles. I rehydrate them in water but drain them while they are still just a bit chewy for use in recipes. Dehydrated shredded zucchini also makes a great ground beef stretcher in many recipes. However, one of my very favorite things to do with it though is make chips.

I'm sure most people have either had or at least heard of Zucchini chips but I wanted to share them with you here since we've been enjoying them so much lately using the South African Smoke Seasoning Blend from Trader Joes to flavor them. It makes the best zucchini chips (wonderful on Kale chips too). The flavor reminds me a little bit of BBQ flavored potato chips :)

-Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed, Organic Olive Oil
-Himalayan salt (or other quality sea salt) 
-Seasonings of choice, in this case South African Smoke Seasoning blend 
 from Trader Joes is my current favorite but you can use whatever you like. 
 I've  made a ranch style blend to use on them, I've used curry, taco  
 seasoning, garlic salt, onion powder with salt and parsley, nutritional yeast 
 with garlic and onion, other store bought seasoning blends (read ingredients 
 of course).... The possibilities are endless really.
Zucchini chips are made by thinly slicing zucchini (other summer squashes work well too as long as they do not have large hard seeds as some yellow varieties do). I use a mandolin so they are evenly sliced. 

Place the slices in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and add seasonings of your choice to taste and toss well so all the slices are evenly coated.

Once the Slices are nicely coated and you've tasted them raw to make sure you are happy with the amount of seasoning you've put on them, place them on dehydrator trays or on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Dehydrate until dry and crispy or use your oven on the lowest setting if you don't have a dehydrator. 

I'm pretty sure I've eaten the equivalent of at least three large zucchinis while typing this post, they are just so good :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Super moist and Yummy Chocolate Cake With Rich Chololate Frosting (Grain free with diary free options, GAPS legal)

My sweet Levi's third Birthday was last week and I made for him what I think is the most perfect chocolate cake ever and its even GAPS legal. I was (am) so impressed with this one I had to share it with you. I wish so much I could post a picture for you!! I will post one as soon as I am able!

1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil if you can't have butter) 
4 cups white beans (soaked and well cooked)
2 big splashes of vanilla
about 3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
10 eggs
4 tsp baking soda
about 1 cup honey (or a combination of honey and stevia extract to taste which is what I did)
1 1/2 cup cocoa powder
about a tsp salt (I used Himalayan)

I put everything in the vita-mix and mixed until it was well blended scraping the sides as needed. You could use a mixing bowl and mixer if you ran the beans through a food processor first and you might want to melt the butter if you do it this way too or at least make sure its very soft. An immersion blender would work as well you just need to make sure the beans are completely pureed.

Pour batter into 2 well greased (coconut oil or butter) and floured (coconut flour) round cake pans (or square or 1 sheet cake pan or alternately you could make cupcakes too...) and bake at 350 until done (I know that's not very helpful, sorry) I just bake it until I can smell it them I check it to determine how much longer it needs after that.  Let cool and frost. 

My very favorite chocolate frosting is not GAPS legal and I have to admit that I do cheat on birthdays and use it anyway but I'll share a legal one too for those who are more disciplined than I or who need a dairy free frosting.

Best Ever Chocolate Frosting (with Dairy)
1 c Heavy Whipping cream (raw is of course best if you have access to it)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup honey
Good splash vanilla

Beat all together until thick and fluffy. Make sure cake is completely cooled before frosting!!

Chocolate Frosting (Dairy Free)
1 c cream taken from top of canned coconut milk (Native Forest Brand). Its 
   helpful to put the can in the fridge until chilled before opening and 
   removing the cream
1/2 c cocoa powder
Honey and stevia extract (vanilla flavored is best) to taste (I prefer more 
   stevia than honey or all stevia in this version of the frosting) 
Good splash of vanilla
Optional is a couple pinches of pumpkin pie spice 

* This serves as a lovely mousse also ;)

Beat until well mixed, thick and fluffy. Again its very important that the cake is completely cooled before frosting!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chocolate No Bake Cookies (grain free, dairy free, honey sweetened)

In a large sauce pan, mix and bring to a boil:

1.5 cups coconut milk,  homemade or Native Forest canned full fat coconut milk (Native Forest is BPA free)

1 cup butter, ghee, coconut oil or a combination of any of the three
3/4 c cocoa powder

honey and/or stevia to taste (I use both approximately 1 dropperful of stevia extract and 1/4 cup honey)

a couple good glugs of vanilla

Then add:

1.5 cups nut butter (we use cashew or almond)

6 cups shredded coconut (or a combination of chopped nuts, coconut and if you like some dried fruit is nice too.)

Mix well and spoon onto waxed paper and place in fridge or freezer until firm.

Menu for Week of July 9th - 13th

Here is my latest menu for those interested. We will be away from home a lot this coming week and eating packed lunches everyday so all meals are planned with that in mind. I have been preparing this week to have many of my foods ready ahead of time. I will try to post the recipe for the Chinese Chicken salad dressing this weekend if time allows.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

GAPS Legal Refried Beans

I was surprised to discover that one of the foods I missed the most when we started GAPS was re-fried beans. I solved that with the following recipe, they even look like re-fried beans plus they are loaded with broth so that makes them even better :) 

8 cups soaked white beans (as I've mentioned in other posts, when I soak beans I soak a 
             bunch and store them in pre-measured bags in the freezer soaked and ready to cook.)

1 large onion finely diced 

4 large cloves crushed garlic

Bone Broth (beef or chicken is fine) 4-8 cups

Tallow for sauteing the onion and garlic and for "frying" the beans (refined     
    coconut oil will work too but tallow gives a nicer flavor. You don't want to use raw coconut oil 
    bc your beans will have a hint of coconut flavor to them)

Salt (Himalayan or Celtic) to taste

Cheese to melt on top for serving if desired

In a large pot bring the beans to a boil, reduce and simmer until they are completely tender and mushy. Do NOT add any salt to the water while they are simmering!! This is very important bc if you do they will never get totally soft, they will always have a  bit of a crunch to them.

While the beans are simmering away (which takes a while) saute the onions and garlic in tallow or coconut oil in a large frying pan. Also in a small sauce pan reduce (by simmering) two cups of broth until until you have about a half a cup of a slightly thick, dark golden brown paste/liquid left in the pan. 

Once your beans are soft and mushy, drain any remaining liquid from them and add them to the frying pan with the garlic and onion adding more tallow or oil as needed to "fry" them. Now mash them with either a potato masher or an immersion blender adding broth as needed until you reach the desired consistency (taste them and you'll know). White beans are dryer than pintos so you might find you need more broth than you would expect to make them nice and creamy tasting. Add the reduced broth, salt and taco seasoning and serve with melted cheese (optional of course). Use them on taco salads, or make burritos with them using cheese salsa and coconut flour crepes / tortillas (these crepes are a staple in our home that I try to always have on hand both in the fridge and in the freezer as they are so handy to use for all sorts of things),  make quesadillas using the crepes and cheese and serve them with these beans, make a bean dip from them by adding cheese and salsa... 

I love that these are an easy, versatile, nutritious, filling AND affordable food to incorporate into my meals :)