Dec 8, 2010

Cranberry Cider

3 1/2 qts water
1 (12 oz) pkg fresh cranberries
1 1/2 c. sweetener (honey is great if you have that much)
2 oranges, juiced
2 lemons, juiced
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks

In a large pot, combine water and cranberries. Bring to a boil (cranberries will pop, so cover the pot), reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add sweetener, orange juice, lemon juice, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Cover, and steep for 1 hour. Strain and remove sticks and cloves (cranberries are optional..I prefer them in).

Yummy! This is definitely a keeper for our family Christmas tradition, and it makes the house smell , delicious! Just add more sweetener if it's too strong.

*from allrecipes.com

Dec 2, 2010

Homemade Mayo

1 Whole Egg
2 T. Vinegar or Lemon Juice (I used vinegar because I was out of lemons)
1/2 t. Dry Mustard
1/2 t. Salt
1 c Oil (I use avocado or olive oil--combinations work well. Coconut oil was too strong.)


Place egg, vinegar or lemon juice, seasonings, and 1/4 cup of the oil in the blender in the order indicated. Put on cover. Run blender until contents are thoroughly blended, about 5 seconds. Remove cover. Add remaining oil gradually and run for a few seconds after last oil is added. YIELD: About 1-1/4 cups.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT add all of the oil at once. Do not do this unless you want to waste a whole cup of oil. Remember how I said this recipe is easy? It’s super easy if you read the instructions and follow them. (Anyone have an idea for how I can use my first failed batch?) The second batch came out perfectly.

*submitted by Cheryl Sanger, "no need to buy store-bought mayo...tastes good!"
originally from www.fakeplasticfish.com

Cheesy Corn Quesadillas with Guacamole


Avacados, peeled and mashed with a fork
Cilantro, washed and chopped
Onion, finely minced
Lime, juiced
Garlic Powder
Salt
Pepper
Corn Tortillas
Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded

1. Prepare all ingredients before peeling the avacados because they brown very fast!  Still tastes fine, but doesn't look that great after sitting out a while.
2. Mix the first 7 ingredients to your preferred taste.  Start with a small amount of everything. 
3. On a non-stick skillet over med. high heat, place the tortillas topped with cheese and another corn tortilla on top of that.  Flip on the other side until cheese is melted and tortillas are a little crispy.  
4. Top the quesadillas with fresh homemade quacamole.  This makes a quick, fresh and delicious snack! 

HEALTH TIP 101: GRAINS

For those of you who have a wheat grinder at home, do you use it regularly? If not, I strongly encourage you to get it out and keep it on your counter top...why?
Most people have learned through experience that refined flour is inimical to good health. According to Prevention Magazine and MANY other health books I have read, as the original wheat kernel is subjected to ever greater processing, more B6 Vitamins are destroyed until losses approach 90%!

Vitamin B6 benefits you in maybe more ways than any other vitamin!
  • Vitamin B6 has been called the "mighty-vite" because of all the functions it performs. It is estimated that Vitamin B6 is involved with more than 101 chemical reactions that occur in our bodies. Vitamin B6 helps us by aiding in the manufacturing of amino acids. Amino acids are what we need to build proteins. And as we all know, proteins are essential for the repair and growth of our tissue.

  • Vitamin B6 benefits our brains as well. Vitamin B6 helps us to make what's called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that connect one nerve cell to the next and enable these two nerve cells to communicate with one another. These neurotransmitters are essential for regulating our mood and even helping to ward off depression in our later years.

  • Vitamin B6 also benefits us by helping us to metabolize our foods and converting these foods into energy we need to get us through our day. Vitamin B6 may play a part in preventing vascular disease and brain disease.
Now that you are aware of how important getting these vital B6 vitamins are, why would we want to continue eating breads/bagels/muffins/pancakes, etc with that white refined flour you get at the store that has about 90% of all those vitamins stripped out?

Grains are the STAFF OF LIFE...so now lets make sure that our WHOLE GRAINS are used in order to keep our bodies healthy! We all know how difficult it is to give up our white refined flour in a society whose eating habits are so heavily based on them. It is relatively easy to replace margerine with butter and refined polyunsaturates with extra virgin olive oil because these fats taste so much better; but white flour, being mildly to severely addictive, is harder to renounce.

So, my first piece of advice is to start replacing white flour products with a variety of ground whole grains.  I like to use about 5 different grains in my flour because then we are getting a nice variety of nutrients and a lighter flour than 100% Whole Wheat Flour.  In fact, Wheat is VERY hard for your body to break down unless it is soaked to soften the outer casing of the Wheat kernals, and that (in my opinion and from all the research I have done) is a main contributer to all the wheat/gluten intolerance that are so common today! So, in my food storage, I have MANY buckets of a variety of grains:

Brown Rice (tons better than white which has been stripped of many vital nutrients)
Spelt (an ancient European grain that was brought to the U.S in the 1890's and is similar to Wheat but easier to digest)
Kamut (One says this grain was found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, hence the nickname; "King Tut's Wheat". Another legend is that Noah used the grain on the ark resulting in the nickname “Prophet’s wheat.” Other legends surmise it was brought over by invading armies into Egypt. In Turkey, it has the nickname “Camel's Tooth” due to its hump back shape)
Oat Groats
Millet
Barley
Rye
Teff (a common grain used in Ethiopia and the smallest grain in the world but holds a powerful punch of nutrients)
Popcorn
Buckwheat, etc.

If you have a local Grainery that sells them in big 25-50 lb bags, this is ideal and what I do. They put them into the buckets with a little CO2 and seal them up for me as well which is nice. I buy a bucket or two every month to keep up my food storage.

The buckets at the Kitchen Kneads store where I buy my grains are more expensive, so I save a little money by purchasing the buckets and the arthritis GAMMA LIDS at Walmart. The Gamma lids are so much easier to open and make it easy to get into them. For instance, I have several buckets of Spelt but one of those buckets have a Gamma lid and the others have regular lids. The one that has the Gamma lid is the one I get the grains from and when that is empty, I open one with a regular lid and dump that bucket into the one with the gamma lid. Then I jot down that I need to buy another bucket of Spelt next month to replace the one that I used up. Then I just take my buckets when I go buy the grains and they'll fill, seal, and label them for me.

This is what Charise does to prepare her grains... OK, so now that you have your storage of several different grains, you can now buy yourself a good solid electric grinder. I have a NUTRIMILL and it has lasted for about 8 years so far and seems to be a good one for me. My mother has a MAGIC MILL which has lasted a LONG time as well, so these are just two options for you. After getting your wheat grinder and the grains, you can now keep it on your counter to use every week or every other week. I have smaller buckets of the grains in my pantry upstairs to easily access them and the big buckets are downstairs in my food storage room.

Charise's 5-Grain Flour combines 5 cups of Spelt or Kamut, 1 cup of Rye, 1 cup of Barley, 1 cup of Millet, and 1 cup of Oat Groats.

This is a nice combination to start off with. You can change the amounts to suit you and implement other grains like Buckwheat, Quinoa, Amaranth and other grains. I dump all of these in my wheat grinder and then scoop it all into a plastic storage container. 

NOW, once your flour is ground, it only keeps the vitamins for a day or two on the counter, 1 week in the fridge, but it will last 1 month in the freezer!  So, I now store my freshly ground flour in a tuperware container in the freezer to ensure the valuable nutrients are not lost! 

This 5-Grain Flour is GREAT in EVERYTHING!!! I use it for our pancakes, waffles, muffins, German Pancakes, quick breads, etc! My husband uses it in his yeast bread recipes but also likes to use ground White Beans to keep it a little lighter and fluffier. Many wonder if their breads will be heavier and I tell them NO because you aren't using 100% WHEAT...which is a heavier grain. Because I use 5 different grains and some lighter than others (such as millet, barley and Oats), it is not very dense at all! 

If at first you don't like using ALL whole-grain flour, might I suggest you start by using 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole grain flour to begin with.  It may take some time to get used to, but you'll soon not want to go back to plain white flour...you'll notice the whole grain flour is much more flavorful and delicious.   Now go and try it for youself...I'm sure you won't be dissappointed and you WILL be so much healhier!

Mini Pumpkin Muffins



1 cup whole-grain flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup organic whole cane sugar (brown sugar)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
15 oz pumpkin puree (1 3/4 cup)
2 lg. eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup lowfat granola cereal, crumbled
Chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease mini or regular muffn pans. 
Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. 
Beat sugar and oil in medium mixer bowl until blended.  Add pumpkin and eggs; beat well. 
Gradually stir in flour mixture.  Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. 
Sprinkle each with a bout 1/2 tsp. of crumbled granola and a few chocolate chips if desired.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes 20 servings, 3 mini muffins each.


*From Charise

Nov 23, 2010

Corn Syrup Substitute

In most cases, you should be able to replace corn syrup with sugar. The usual rule is as follows:

1 cup corn syrup can often be replaced by 1 1/4 granulated sugar (or light brown sugar) plus 1/4 of liquid (use water or whatever liquid is specified in the recipe you’re using). (there are homemade recipes out there that include cream of tartar and boiling to soft ball stage...but that breaks down the sugars and ends up not being a healthier alternative to store bought corn syrup.)

Other possibilities:
Lyle’s Golden Syrup (use in same quantity as corn syrup) -- Lyle’s Golden Syrup is widely available in the UK, but possibly harder to find in the United States. Decent sized supermarkets may stock it in the British section of the International aisles, I suspect.

Honey (use in same quantity as corn syrup) -- honey is quite a bit sweeter than corn syrup, but if the recipe doesn’t call for a lot of it, this may be an effective substitute.

Molasses (use in same quantity as corn syrup) -- molasses is darker, obviously, and also stronger in flavor. It’s also less sweet than corn syrup, so is probably your last resort.

If you’re baking something like cookies or bread, I’d suggest you try the honey substitute. Honey, like corn syrup, is hygroscopic. Hygroscopic substances attract water molecules from the air. What this means for baking is that cookies and bread baked with honey rather than sugar will tend to stay softer longer.

Nov 17, 2010

Nut Milk - Dairy Alternative

I don't have milk much, so when I came across this almond milk recipe I thought, "why not?" It's not bad. I only use it for an ocassional bowl of milk or as a milk alternative in my cooking if I've already made a batch. It only lasts about 4 days, and you'll want to figure out how to use the leftover ground almonds so you don't waste them (I threw them in some sweet bread/muffins or as a cumble topping, or oven for a pie crust.

1/3 C. Raw Organic Nuts (almonds or cashews)
2 C. Water (and 2 c more for soaking)

Need:
A pot
A blender (I use my stick blender)
A mesh strainer (clean nylons might work, maybe?)

1. Soak nuts hours in 2 c. water with 1 1/2 t salt. drain, rinse. (soak for a few hours or overnight)
2. Blend soaked nuts with 2 c. water.
3. Strain nut remnants out (might need to twice).
4. Add sweetener to taste (I normally add a swirl of agave)
5. Shake well and use (or put in fridge)

This generally lasts 4 days, and I found that I could add a little extra water while blending to make it last longer. Or, you can even run the nut pieces you strained through with another 2 cups of water and make another batch if you're lucky (it worked for me).

You can try the egg nog recipe using regular milk or nut milk!

Or try doing it with rice or oats for a 24 hour soak! Oat Milk is actually very nourishing and great to drink during winter!

Herb Hints and FAQ

Herb Hints
1. Best when fresh: parsley, basil, thyme, cumin, mint, rosemary, cilantro, oregano, ginger, lemon grass, garlic.

2. Best when dried: bay leaves, tarragon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika.

3. Growing herbs indoors is easier than you might think. Basil, especially, loves a sunny window sill.

4. Prolonged cooking causes fresh herbs to lose their flavor.

5. Fresh herbs are great in breads including cornbreads, biscuits, dumplings, savory pancakes and waffles.

6. Fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator with their stems in water.

7. Dried herbs are good to store for approximately four to six months. Kept too long, dried herbs will loose their flavor and spices will taste stale

----
FAQ

What is the difference between an herb and a spice?
The herb is considered the soft part of the plant, like the leaves while a spice is the hard seed, stems and bark.

Do herbs vary in their degree of flavor?
Yes, they do. Keep this in mind in how much of the herb to use and when to add it in the cooking process.

Strong herbs are added in the beginning of a recipe. They benefit from slow simmering.
Use about 1 teaspoon for 6 servings. Strong or dominant herbs include bay, cardamon, caraway, cinnamon, cloves, curry, ginger, juniper berries, hot peppers, mustard, rosemary, saffron, black sage, and whole spices.

The medium flavored herbs are added towards the end of the recipe in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons for six servings. The herbs in this group are basil, celery seed and leaves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, lemon grass, tarragon, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, savory, thyme and turmeric.

Delicate flavored herbs are called blending herbs, as they make other flavors work well together. Add these herbs freely just before serving. Herbs in the group are salad burnet, chervil, chives and parsley.

When when a recipe calls for dried herbs, what is the ratio of fresh to dried herbs? The ratio is to use 3 times the amount fresh herb as the amount of dried called for in the recipe.

DIY Herb Mixes

Don't have a mix on hand? See if you can improvise with the herbs you have on-hand using these guides...


Old Bay Seasoning
1 T celery seed
1 T whole black peppercorn
6 bay leaves
1/2 t whole cardamom pod
1/2 t mustard seeds
4 whole cloves
1 t sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 t mace


Curry Powder (blend of spices; create your own by mixing and matching as desired.) Fenugreek seeds (almost always included)—a sweet, yellow seed to be used with cautionCaraway seeds (optional)—strong anise flavor
Fennel seeds' (optional)—weaker licorice flavor than anise, slightly sweetCinnamon (optional)—sweet and flavorful
Cumin—strong, earthy aroma important to the overall flavor of the curry powderPepper, red or white—white pepper is made from the same plant as black pepper but has a milder flavor; red pepper is made from dried chili peppers
Cardamom (optional)—expensive member of the ginger family with a sweet, flowery aroma
Coriander seeds—lightly sweet with hints of citrus and mint
Turmeric—brightly yellow with an earthy bitternessGinger (optional)—sweet and spicy, best to use fresh
Cloves (optional)—strong, distinct flavor; to be used in small amountsMace (optional)—made from same plant as nutmeg with lighter flavor
HINTS
Toast spices for extra flavor.
Husk cardamom pods to get the seeds.
Coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fenugreek form a base.
Add pepper or ginger for extra kick.
Create a bright yellow color with turmeric.

Creole Seasoning Mix
•4 tsp. salt
•1 tsp. paprika
•1 Tbsp. garlic powder
•2 tsp. pepper
•1 tsp. white pepper
•2 tsp. onion powder
•1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
•1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
•1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
•1 tsp. cayenne pepper
•1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Taco Seasoning Mix
•1/4 cup instant minced onion
•2 Tbsp. chili powder
•2 tsp. paprika
•2 tsp. crushed dried red pepper flakes
•1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
•1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
•1 Tbsp. salt
•1/4 tsp. pepper
•2 Tbsp. cornstarch
•1 Tbsp. instant minced garlic
•1 tsp. ground cumin

Italian Seasoning
•1/3 cup dried oregano leaves
•1 Tbsp. garlic powder
•2 tsp. onion salt
•1/3 cup dried basil leaves
•2 Tbsp. rosemary leaves, ground down to 1 tsp.
•1/4 cup dried thyme leaves

Greek Seasoning
•1/4 cup dried oregano leaves
•2 tablespoons fennel seeds
•2 tablespoons dried crushed lemon grass
•2 tablespoons onion
•2 tablespoons garlic
•1 teaspoon black pepper
•1/2 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
•1 Tbsp. cinnamon
•1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
•1/2 tsp. ground cloves
•1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
•1/8 tsp. salt

Seasoned Salt
•3/4 cup salt
•1/4 cup garlic salt
•1/2 tsp. pepper
•1/2 tsp. white pepper
•1/2 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
•1 tsp. paprika
•1/8 tsp. celery seed
•1/4 tsp. dry mustard powder

No-Salt Seasoned Salt
•1 Tbsp. garlic powder
•2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
•2 tsp. onion powder
•2 tsp. paprika
•2 tsp. celery seed
•1-1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
•1 Tbsp. dry mustard powder
•2 tsp. dried finely chopped lemon peel
•1 tsp. pepper


Herbs de Provence
•2 T savory
•2 T rosemary
•2 T thyme
•2 T oregano
•2 T basil
•2 T marjoram
•2 T fennel seed
•1 T lavender
(compare to: basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, marjoram, lavender flowers, fennel seed, and tarragon)

Flavor your own meat like sausage (kinds vary, esp by country, but this is avg)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. fennel
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

most Mixes from http://busycooks.about.com/library/recipes/blspicemix.htm

List of Ethnic Flavors - which herbs are used

Caribbean: Allspice, cilantro, curry, garlic, ginger, lime, vanilla.
Chinese: Basil, ginger, sesame seeds, tamari and nama shoyu.
Eastern European: Caraway seeds, dill, parsley.
French: chives, garlic, parsley, tarragon, lemon peel.
Greek: oregano, mint, thyme, basil, marjoram, onion, garlic
Indian: Anise, cardamom, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, fennel, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard, saffron, tamarind and turmeric.
Indonesian: Basil, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, lime, mint and nama shoyu.
Italian: Basil, garlic, oregano, and rosemary.
Japanese: Garlic, ginger, miso, sesame seeds, wasabi, tamari and nama shoyu.
Latin American: chiles, cumin, cilantro, garlic, limes, chocolate, and cinnamon.
Middle Eastern: Anise, cilantro, chilies, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon, mint, oregano, parsley, saffron, sesame, and tahini.
Thai: Basil, chilies, cilantro, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lime, mint, tamarind and turmeric.

List of Foods - with which herbs

Beans (dried): cumin, cayenne, chili, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme
Beef: basil, bay, chili, cilantro, curry, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Breads: anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme
Cheese: basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chili, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Chicken: allspice, basil, bay, cinnamon, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger lemongrass, mustard, paprika, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Corn: chili, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme
Eggs: basil, chervil, chili, chives, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Fish: anise, basil, bay, cayenne, celery seed, chives, curry, dill fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, marjoram
Fruits: allspice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint
Lamb: basil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme
Potatoes: basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Salad Dressings: basil, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme
Salads: basil, caraway, chives, dill, garlic, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Soups: basil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme
Sweets: allspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary
Tomatoes: basil, bay , celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, gumbo file, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

Nov 16, 2010

Quick Grain Nutrient Comparison

If you want to know a brief breakdown of each grain, how to cook, and a simple recipe or two for each, check out this awesome summary page: http://www.foodfit.com/healthy/healthygrains.asp

----
Here's another great website for detail for every grain: how to cook,where each is from, the nutrient properties, etc.: http://www.versagrain.com/

Here are some nutrient comparisons from that site:


















They have pages dedicated to each of these grains:
South American Grains
Amaranth
Corn
Quinoa

African GrainsMillet
Teff

Middle Eastern Grains
Barley
Emmer
Flax
Kamut

North American Grains
Chia
Wheat
Wild Rice

European Grains
Oat
Rye
Spelt

Asian Grains
Brown Rice
Buckwheat
Job's Tears

List of Herbs - with which foods

Basil: pasta, tomato dishes, pesto, eggs, cheese, salads, italian dishes, Thai dishes
Caraway seeds: stir-fries
Cardamom: rice, rice cakes, cookies (typical in curries)
Cinnamon: cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, toasts, rice pudding. Can also be infused into tea, soups, stews and sauces.
Coriander seeds: poultry, fish (common in Indian foods and curries)
Chili: spicy dishes (good with cumin in mexican dishes)
Chives: potatoes, sauces, salads, eggs, savory pancakes
Cilantro: Asian soups, salads, pesto, chicken, dips and sauces (also typical in Mexican food)
Cloves: baked hams, fruit salads, Oriental chicken dish, mulled drinks
Dried herbs: meat, poultry, fish
Dill: fish especially salmon and shrimp, mayonnaise or thick dressing, potatoes, tartar sauce
Garlic: sauces, most vegetable dishes, meat and poultry, spreads
Ginger: ice cream, Chinese dishes, tea, cookies
Lemon Grass: tea and Thai foods (like curry)
Mint: eggs, lamb, fruit salad, iced tea , chocolate sauces and garnish on deserts such as: cakes, ice cream
Mustard Seeds: meat and poultry
Oregano: fish, tomato sauce, pizzas (and Italian dishes)
Paprika: chicken, rice
Parsley: cucumber salad, green salad, potato, rice, pasta, egg, garnish on fish dishes, broiled meats and vegetables, seafood, soup, stew, gratins
Rosemary: roast chicken, lamb, pork, potato, beans, polenta, quesadillas
Salt and Pepper: most savory dishes.
Saffron: rice, stews and soups
Sage: bread, cheese, stuffing, sausage, turkey
Tarragon: lamb, chicken, fish, mayonnaise
Thyme: poultry, soups, and stuffing
Tumeric: Rice

Nov 4, 2010

Käsespätzle: German Cheese Noodles

*pronounced kay-zuh (cheese) schpet-zluh (noodle)

4 eggs
2 c. flour (I do 1/2 wheat)
½ t. ground nutmeg
½ c. milk
1 t. salt
4 c. chicken broth
1 T butter
½ onion, chopped
1½ c. emmenthaler cheese, grated (or swiss, Jarlsberg or gouda--our fav.)
few slices of pepperoni (opt.)

1. Prepare the batter in a bowl, with flour, milk, eggs, salt and ground nutmeg.
2. Boil a large pot of chicken broth. Form the spaetzle, using a special spaetzle maker, or I just use a rubber spatula with holes to push the batter through, or a large-holed colander, etc. into the boiling water. Cook the spaetzle in boiling water for a few minutes. When they float to the top, you can take them out (they can sit in there for a few minutes though. I do 1/4 of the wet batter at a time, then spoon those out and start the next 1/4); drain it in a colander or on paper towels.
3. Sauté half an onion in butter, then add the noodles. Within a few minutes, or at the same time, add the cheese and stir the mixture until the spaetzle begins to brown. (This is when we add little pieces of pepperoni for extra awesome flavor, but that's just us, not traditional.)
4. Serve immediately, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Any type of Swiss cheese can be used instead of emmenthaler cheese.

**For those who really love cheese, the dish can be sprinkled with additional cheese and broiled briefly. This is typically served with a breaded meat or something, but we just throw in a little meat. It might not be the most amazing meal, but it's definitely fun to try...the noodle are cute and an interesting way of making noodles.

Simple Feta Stuffed Sweet Peppers


Mini Sweet Peppers
Feta Cheese
Basil
-opt. version: quinoa cooked in chicken broth with spinach and salt

Cut the tops off the mini peppers and take out the seeds.
Fill each pepper with some feta and sprinkle the basil into each as desired.
Place on a tray and bake on 350 for 20-30 minutes until roasted/slight browning.


**I got a bag of these from Costco, which has the recipe on the back. These look fun and colorful and would be good appetizers. Try with cream cheese for a less-healthy option, or play around with the seasoning/flavor. They also taste great stuffed with quinoa cooked in chicken broth and added with spinach and feta inside too!

Nov 3, 2010

JUICE PLUS VITAMINS

If you aren't taking any vitamins... I suggest a whole-food vitamin! These have 7 fruits and 7 vegetables in two capsules each. They aren't too expensive ($40/month for me and one child), and are worth every penny! Our family rarely get sick and the other kids and my husband share ours when we happen to forget to take them that day. This way, we all benefit from a little added nutrition! They will jump-start you in the right and HEALTHY direction! Visit: www.juiceplus.com

Understanding Organic labels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards.

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it's produced and processed according to the USDA standards and that at least 95 percent of the food's ingredients are organically produced. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

Products certified 95 percent or more organic display the large USDA circle seal.

Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

100 percent organic - Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
Organic - Products that are at least 95 percent organic.
Made with organic ingredients - These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can't be used on these packages.

Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can't use the organic seal or the word "organic" on their product label. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

You may see other terms on food labels, such as "all-natural," "free-range" or "hormone-free." These descriptions may be important to you, but don't confuse them with the term "organic." Only those foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Seasonal Produce List

To view this list larger, click on the picture. IT will take you to a full page of it, but then hold ctrl and type + (do the same to shrink, but - instead of +)

It's important to know which produce is in season for smart and healthy variety to your meals.
Take note of which foods are year-round, so you can use those for your foundational meal planning menus. This will also help you keep track of when produce will be most available and hence cheapest.

I love stocking up on zucchini in the summer and pumpkin in the fall. Always try to buy local, in season and organic if possible. Definitely look for a local farmer's market or produce stand to better find organic and local options.

Which Organic Produce to Buy

DIRTY DOZEN LIST
www.organic.org

12 Most Contaminated
These are the foods that should be bought organic if you have to choose, because they are highest in chemicals & pesticides.

12 Least Contaminated
Onions
Avocado
Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Pineapples
Mango
Asparagus
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit
Bananas
Cabbage
Broccoli
Papaya

When to throw which foods away?

Here are some rough expiration dates for some unopened pantry items:
not to be confused with bulk food storage type items that are packaged properly to last longer
Beans (dried): 1 year
Cake mixes: 15 months
Canned goods: 2+ years
Chocolate: 1 to 2 years
Condiments (most of them): 1+ year(s)
Confectioner's sugar: 18 months
Cornmeal: 1 year
Evaporated milk: 1 year
Flour: 1 year
Pasta: 2 years
Rice: 1 to 2 years
Soup mix: 2 years
Spices (ground): 1 year
Spices (whole): 2 to 4 years
Sugar (brown and white): Indefinitely
Vanilla: 5 years


Here's Ziploc's list of foods and dates... (mostly perishables)
To view this list larger, click on the picture. IT will take you to a full page of it, but then hold ctrl and type + (do the same to shrink, but - instead of +)

Substitutes for Cooking with Alcohol

Alcoholic Ingredient Description
Substitution


Amaretto Italian almond-flavored liqueur
Almond extract.

Beer or ale Various types.
For light beers, substitute chicken broth, ginger ale or white grape juice.
For heavier beers, use a stronger beef, chicken or mushroom broth or stock.

Brandy Liquor made of distilled wine or fruit juice.
If a particular flavor is specified, use the corresponding fruit juice, such as apple, apricot, cherry, peach, raspberry etc. or grape juice. Corresponding flavored extracts can be used for small amounts.

Champagne Sparkling white wine.
Sparkling white grape juice, ginger ale, white wine.

Creme de menthe Thick and syrupy, sweetened mint liqueur.
Comes both clear and green.Mix spearmint extract or oil with a little water or grapefruit juice. Use a drop of food coloring if you need the green color.

Red Burgundy Dry French wine.
Red wine vinegar, grape juice.

Red wine Sweet or dry wine.
Beef or chicken broth or stock, diluted red wine vinegar, red grape juice diluted with red wine vinegar or rice vinegar, tomato juice, liquid from canned mushrooms, plain water.

Rum Liquor distilled from molasses or sugar syrup.
For light rum, use pineapple juice flavored with almond extract. For dark rum, use molasses thinned with pineapple juice and flavored with almond extract.

Sherry Fortified dessert wine, sweet or dry, some with a slightly nutty flavor.
Orange or pineapple juice.

White Burgundy Dry French wine.
White grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar.

White wine Sweet or dry wine.
Chicken broth or stock, diluted white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, white grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar, ginger ale, canned mushroom liquid, water. For marinades, substitute 1/4 cup vinegar plus 1 Tbsp sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

20 Recipe Makeover Ideas

1. Use low-fat and no-fat cooking methods such as steaming, poaching, stir-frying, broiling, grilling, baking and roasting as alternatives to frying.

2. Get a good-quality set of non-stick saucepans, skillets and baking pans so you can sauté and bake without adding fat.

3. Use nonstick vegetable sprays or 1-2 T defatted broth, water, or juice to replace cooking oil.

4. Be aware that fat-free and reduced-fat cheeses have slightly different cooking characteristics than their fattier counterparts (don’t tend to melt as smoothly). To overcome this, shred the cheeses finely. When making sauces and soups, toss the cheese with a small amt of flour, cornstarch or arrowroot.

5. Trim all visible fat from steaks, chops, roasts and other meat cuts before preparing them.

6. Replace one quarter to one half of ground meat or poultry in a casserole or meal sauce with cooked brown rice, bulgur, couscous, or cooked and chopped dried beans to skim the fat and add fiber.

7. Deciding to remove poultry skin before or after depends on your cooking method. Skin prevents roasted or baked cuts from drying out, and studies show that the skin’s fat doesn’t penetrate while cooking. However, if you leave the skin on, make sure any seasonings applied go under the skin, or flavor will be lost.

8. Skim and discard fat from soups and stews, or chill the soup or stew and skim the solid fat off the top.

9. Use pureed cooked vegetable such as carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower, to thicken soups and sauces instead of cream, egg yolks or butter/flour roux. Also use soft tofu to thicken sauces.

10. Select “healthier” fats when you need to add fat to a recipe. That means replacing butter, lard, or other highly saturated fats with oils such as canola, olive, safflower, sunflower, corn, and other low in saturates. Remember, it takes just a few drops of a very flavorful oil, such as extra-virgin olive oil, dark sesame, walnut, or garlic oil, to really perk up a dish.

11. Skim the fat when you won’t miss it, but keep the characteristic flavor of fatty ingredients such as nuts, coconut, chocolate chips and bacon by reducing the quantity you use by 50%. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of walnuts, use ½ cup instead.

12. Toast nuts and spices to enhance their flavor and then chop them finely so they can be more fully distributed through the food.

13. If sugar is the primary sweetener in a fruit sauce, beverage, or other dish that is not baked, scale the amt down by 25%. Instead of 1 cup sugar, use ¾ cup. If you add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice, you’ll increase the perception of sweetness without adding calories.

14. In baked goods, add pureed fruit instead of fat. One of the reasons fat is included in baked products is to make them moist. The high concentration of natural sweetness in pureed fruit will actually help hold on to the moisture during the baking process. When making this substitution, switch equal amt of pureed fruit for same amt of fat. Use applesauce in bran muffins or cake, or even crushed pineapple.
a. Dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries or prunes, are best used in dark-colored batters. You can add lighter-colored fruits, such as pears or applesauce, to almost any batter without changing it’s color. Adding yellow-orange fruits, such as pureed peaches or apricots, can often add an appetizing yellowish crumb.
b. You can use pears or apples nearly universally in baking because their taste is mild and unnoticeable. Apricots, prunes, and pineapple add a much stronger flavor. Bananas and peaches are somewhere in the middle, adding a little flavor, but never overwhelming. Here’s a secret: if you don’t have a food processor to puree your own fruit, use baby food (already pureed, mild flavor, and usually without sugar.

15. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, for baked goods. This increases volume and tenderness.

16. Make a simple fat-free “frosting” for cakes or bar cookies by sprinkling tops with powered sugar.

17. Increase fiber content and nutritional value of dishes by using whole-wheat flours for at least half of the all-purpose white flours (don’t use bleached flour).

18. Vegetables can be fat-replacements:
a. Carrot puree, roasted red bell pepper puree, or mashed potatoes to your pasta sauce to replace the oil
b. Replace some fat in nut breads or cakes with vegetable purees or juices, such as carrot juice or pumpkin puree.
c. Substitute pureed green peas for half the amt of mashed avocado in guacamole or other dips.
d. Replace fat in soups, sauces, muffins or cakes with mashed yams/sweet potatoes.
e. Use white potatoes to thicken lower-fat milks in cream soups and bisques.
f. Substitute a layer of vegetables in lasagna to replace meat or sausage.
g. Top pizza with vegetables instead of meat.

19. Choose whole grains, instead of white breads and pastas. Whole grains allow the nutrients your body needs, while white or refined flours are generally stripped of nutritional value and bleached in a harsh preparation process. (The difference between being fed vs. nourished) Examples include: Barley, Brown rice, Buckwheat, Bulgur (cracked wheat), Millet, Oatmeal, Popcorn, Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers, Wild rice

20. Choose healthier meat options. Instead of regular hamburger, buy lean ground turkeyburger. Or use turkeyroni, turkey sausage or turkey bacon instead of their counterparts. Or opt for a vegetable burger.

WHICH OF THESE FOODS ARE GREAT FOR YOUR BONES?

A.) Nuts
B.) Milk
C.) Onions
D.) Whole-wheat bread

The answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE! New research shows that two other compounds, inulin (found in onions and wheat as well as in asparagus, artichokes, and bananas) and phytate (in nuts and whole grains) are also key. Inulin boosts calcium absorption, and phytate prevents bone mineral destruction. Bottom line; A diverse diet with LOTS of veggies and whole grains is CRUCIAL for healthy bones. This is my main reason that I grind my own grains for flour instead of using white refined flour for my baking/cooking. Remember that once you grind your wheat/spelt/kamut or other grains, store them in your fridge so as to keep the B6 vitamins in tact (see the VITAMINS section in my blog). If you have any bone-density issues or know you have arthritis (like myself), PLEASE take note and try implementing better eating habits so as not to loose any more bone!

Where to start...

Most people have learned through experience that white sugar and refined flour are inimical to good health, and they know how difficult it is to give these things up in a society whose eating habits are based on them. It is relatively easy to replace margerine with butter and refined polyunsaturates with extra virgin olive oil because these fats taste so much better; but sugar and white flour, being mildly to severely addictive, are harder to renounce.


First, just start replacing white flour products with a variety of properly prepared whole grains and limiting sweets to occasional desserts made from natural sweetners (such as honey, pure maple syrup, rapadura, date sugar, molasses, etc.).
It may take time, and will almost certainly have setbacks (as I did for several months), but in the end your willpower and persistence will reward you with greatly improved health and stamina. Not only will you feel great, but you'll loose pounds and look great!

Vitamin A

This vitamin's most important function is the role it plays in helping our body's largest organ...the skin! Without enough of this important vitamin, even healthy skin becomes dry, rough and flaky. In extreme cases, the scalp becomes inflamed and leads to dandruff. All our senses (taste, hearing, sight) use this vital nutrient in order to keep them running right. Vitamin A is proven to fight against pollutants all around us as well. Over 60% of all cancers have one thing in common: they involve epithelial tissue, the protective layer of cells that lines all the body's tissues inside and out (the skin, for instance, is epithelial tissue, as is the lining of the digestive tract). Vitamin A strengthens epithelial tissue, and experts believe that if we ate a diet rich in the nutrient, all these cancers might be prevented!

Best Sources of Vitamin A
Beef Liver
Sweet Potato
Carrots, sliced, cooked
Spinich, cooked
Cantaloupe
Kale, cooked
Broccoli, cooked
Squash, winter
Mustard greens, cooked
Apricots, fresh
Watermelon
Endive, raw
Leaf lettuce
Asparagus, cooked
Peas, fresh, cooked
Green beans, cooked
Yellow corn
Parsley, diced
Egg, hard-boiled

Vitamin B

The COMPLEX VITAMINS

(B1)Thiamine, (B2) Riboflavin, (B3)Niacin, (B5)Panthothenic Acid, B6, B12, Folic Acid(folate) and Biotin- comprise what we call the B complex vitamins. These important vitamins can chase away the blues, eradicate itchy dermatitis, prevent premenstrual tension, heal the heart and help insomniacs get the rest they need.
Thiamin (B1) is important for good digestion, strong mucous membranes, a healthy nervous systmem and energy. Shortages can cause a weakening of the heart muscle and eventually cardiac failure.
Riboflavin(B2) repairs and maintains body tissues and keeps your body pink. It also helps convert food into energy. A deficiency is known to affect the blood and skin.
Niacin(B3) is involved in energy production, maintains healthy skin, mucous membranes, nerves, brain, and digestion system. A lack of this vitamin could cause everyday problems like dermatitis, irritability and arthritis. Vitamin B6 not only helps to make immunity amino acids, but also aids in our blood circulation, prevents acne, depression, breast pain and bloating. It helps increase our stamina as well. If people have a problem with gallstones, you can stop that with an increase of B6. ??? Did you know, that as the original wheat kernel is subjected to ever greater processing, more B6 is destroyed until this essential vitamin is up to 90% lost...a detrement to our overall health??? This is why it is crucial to our overall health not to eat foods with refined white flours.
Folic Acid(folate) is vital for reproductive health and cell division and helps maintain healthy blood cells. It is also shown to quiet restless legs down.
Vitamin B12 works tirelessly to keep our nerves and blood in shape. It detoxifies the body, and is needed to make DNA. A B12 shortage can result in bloated, misshapen cells that are unable to carry oxygen (their main job in life), so you wind up pale, tired and anemic. Vitamin B12 occurs only in eggs, meat and dairy products, so strict vegetarians should take supplements as insurance!
Biotin is another important nutrient necessary for healthy skin, hair, nails, nerves and bone marrow. It helps maintain healthy blood cells as well. It is also involved in energy production.

If you find yourself dragging or don't have the energy you used to have, you may need to boost up your B vitamins!

Best Sources of B Complex Vitamins
Beef, lean
Brewer's yeast (I sprinkle it on my popcorn)
Chicken, white meat
Chick-peas, dried
Egg hard-boiled
Four, Rye
Flour, whole wheat
Kidney beans, dried
Kidney, beef
Liver, beef
Liver, chicken
Milk, whole
Navy Beans, dried
Peanuts, chopped
Rice, brown, raw
Salmon steak
Soybeans, dried
Sunflower seeds, dried
Swiss cheese
Wheat germ, toasted

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is unique as it is the only vitamin that seems to play a role in every bodily function as it holds the cells together! It has been called "an oil for the machinery of life" but your body can't manufacture it or store more than a few grams. This is why it is so crucial to get a rich daily supply of vitamin C. Deficiencies interfere with production of collagen (protein "cement" that holds your cells together), helping woulds heal, your ability to digest food and fight the effects of stress. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) recommends we take 60 milligrams a day. That's fine if you want to stay just above the scurvy level...but, if you want to live a life of reduced infection, if you want to promote healing within your body's cells and sharpen your immune system, you'll want a daily intake far above the RDA. A healthy person should actually take 200 milligrams/day, but diabetics, smokers, the elderly, people under stress, or allergy sufferers should take a lot more. The reason is when your body is already struggling with a health issue, it demands additional vitamin C to heal itself and fight off enemies within. Make sure that you don't boil your vegetables because vitamin C is water soluable and quickly leaches into cooking water. Steam them instead. You might also want to eat them with foods rich in iron because these two nutrients work together and boosts the body's absorption of them. Studies have shown that vitamin C helps fight against fatigue, heals cold sores in half the time, prevent and relieve muscle soreness, thwart cancer, tame the flu and treat the common colds...the list is endless. Are you getting enough vitamin C?

Best Sources of Vitamin C
Orange juice, fresh squeezed
Green peppers, raw,chopped
Grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed
Papaya
Brussel Sprouts
Broccoli, raw, chopped
Orange
Canteloupe
Turnip greens, cooked
Cauliflower, raw, chopped
Strawberries
Grapefruit
Tomato juice
Potato
Tomato, raw
Cabbage, raw, chopped
Blackberries
Spinich, raw, chopped
Blueberries
Cherries, sweet
Mung bean sprouts

Vitamin D

As you are aware, this vitamin strengthens your bones and nourishes your muscles and nerves. Most of the vitamin D we use comes from the sun and activates calcium and phosphorus into our bloodstream so they can spread their good deeds around. If your production or intake of this vital nutrient is low, the levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood will drop as well, and your body has no choice but to steal them from your bones! Researchers have found that people who spend a fair amount of time outdoors during the summer months actually build up a "pool" of vitamin D that can last through the winter because vitamin D is fat-soluble and is stored in the body. This is great news, especially for anyone who has arthritis or osteoporosis. Now you know that you need more vitamin D in order to get more calcium distributed throughout your body!

Best FOOD Sources of Vitamin D
Halibut-liver oil
Herring
Cod-liver oil
Mackerel
Salmon, Pacific
Tuna
Labe

Vitamin E

This vitamin is one of the most important natural antioxidants readily available and slows down aging, strengthens your heart, promotes a healthy circulatory system by preventing the formation of dangerous blood clots and heals wounds. Here's a cool metaphor about a wrench for you to think about. Given favorable conditions, oxidation will turn a shiny metal wrench into an ugly, rusted wrench very quickly. Our bodies, of course, don't rust, but under the right circumstances, oxidative damage produces the kind of accelerated wear and tear that may lead to premature aging, lowered resistance, cancer and heart disease. Fortunately, nature has provided us with a way of slowing down such reactions. Cells and tissues are protected against oxidation in a variety of ways, but perhaps the most important are substances called antioxidants (vitamin E comes to the rescue)! Tests reveal that vitamin E may help preserve cell membranes, letting various healthful substances into cells while letting wastes escape. Very simply, vitamin E will help you heal and stay well protected.

Best Sources of Vitamin E
Wheat germ oil
Sunflower seeds
Wheat germ, raw
Sunflower seed oil
Almonds
Pecans
Hazelnuts
Safflower oil
Peanuts
Corn oil
Cod-liver oil
Peanut butter
Soybean oil
Peanut oil
Lobster
Salmon steak

Flax Seed 101

Flax is a natural food that has been consumed for thousands of years by many civilizations with noticeable health benefits and no artificial drug side effects.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its healthy reputation primarily to three ingredients:
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids: "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans: which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities that help prevent many types of cancer, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber: As a whole grain, flax contains high levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber
Your body cannot make the essential fatty acids, Linoleic (Omega-6) or Linolenic (Omega-3), from other elements; instead, they must be consumed as part of your daily diet. Research has indicated that we consume too much Omega-6’s and not enough Omega-3’s, but flaxseed contains these essential fatty acids in perfect balance.

In proper balance, omega-3’s and omega-6’s work to form the membranes of every cell in your body, play a vital role in the active tissues of your brain, and control the way cholesterol works in your system.

 ----------
How to use...
You should grind flaxseeds to get the most nutritional value--otherwise the whole seed is hard to digest for your body. Or you can get the oil or capsules. But I'd just use a coffee/seed grinder (about $15 and can grind nuts too--whether or not you do coffee) in order to enhance their digestibility and therefore their nutritional value.

And store them in the fridge or freezer whole, so they don't go rancid. Once you grind them, you should try to use them right away, because like whole grain flour, the nutritional value starts decreasing once ground.

If adding ground flaxseeds to a cooked cereal or grain dish, do so at the end of cooking since the soluble fiber in the flaxseeds can thicken liquids if left too long. In fact, you can even use flax seed as an egg substitute (gets really think like a gel) at a ratio of 1:3 (ex: 1T flax : 3T water)!

A Few Ways to Eat Flax:
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto your hot or cold cereal
  • Add a spoonful or two into your homemade muffin, cookie or bread recipe
  • Add a spoonful to pump up the nutritional volume of your breakfast shake or smoothies
  • To give cooked vegetables a nuttier flavor, sprinkle some ground flaxseeds on top of them
  • Add a spoonful or two to a meatloaf or to panko crumbs/breading topping
Or try some of our recipes with them in it:
Easy Flax Seed Crackers
Whole Grain Sandwich Bread
Pecan Cookies
Quinoa Meatloaf/Balls




Nov 1, 2010

Spinach-Feta-Stuffed Mini Pumpkins


2 small sugar pumpkins
5 large handfuls of spinach leaves
1 garlic clove
1/3 c. feta cheese, crumbled

salt to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cut off tops and remove seeds from pumpkins. Replace lids. Place in a shallow baking dish with a small amount of water to prevent bottoms from scorching during cooking.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until insides have darkened yet outsides remain firm. (opt. to add 1 t. butter to inside)
4. Meanwhile, sautee crushed garlic clove in oil and add the spinach; sautee for 5 minutes until spinach is fully cooked down; drain some juice (if any).
5. Remove garlic clove, then fill pumpkins with spinach mixture, and top with feta cheese and replace pumpkin lid.
6. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese if serving immediately.
*Pumpkins may be covered and refrigerated at this point until ready to serve. May be reheated in the microwave for 2 minutes.

*variation of allrecipe.com (they use cream cheese and no garlic)

Oct 13, 2010

Homemade Cream of Chicken

This is a basic white sauce that is a perfect substitute for canned cream of chicken.
I like making it with fresh chicken juices from my crockpot whole chicken, in place of the butter (without seasonings, except the salt and pepper are needed) and using it as a gravy over potatoes and then the next day for creamed eggs on toast. We use it for Hawaiian haystacks and it passes with flying colors....no body misses the canned stuff.

3 T butter
1/2 c. flour
3 c chicken broth (substitute 2cups with milk for creamier)
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. black pepper
1/4 t. salt

1. In medium-sized saucepan melt butter, then add flour and seasonings.
2. Add the liquid and Continue whisking briskly until mixture boils and thickens. About ten minutes or more.

Basic Homemade Stuffing

9-10 bread end pieces (white or wheat)
3 tbsp. butter
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 med. onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 c. boiling water


Dice bread ends and measure about 4 1/2 cups. Melt butter in a 2 quart pot. Add celery, onion and garlic. Saute over low heat 5 minutes. Add parsley, herbs and pepper to sauteed vegetable mix and stir. Add boiling water. Stir; bring mix to a boil and take the pot off the range. Now lightly fork in the bread cubes. Cover the pot and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.

Oct 11, 2010

Top 10 Healthy Ways to Cook Fruits & Vegetables

Bake …
1. Sweet potato fries by cutting up into slices and seasoning with olive oil, cayenne pepper and a dash of salt.
2. Peaches for a sweet snack. Slice in half, drizzle on some honey and sprinkle with ginger and pecans.
3. Winter squash, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon.
4. A potato for lunch, top with broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese.
5. An apple for dessert. Fill the core with dried fruit and nuts.

Boil … (best if you retain the liquid, because many nutrients seep into it while cooking)
1. Diced or crushed tomatoes in a vegetable or chicken broth for the base of a homemade tomato soup! Add fresh herbs and spices to make your own unique recipe.
2. Apples with lemon juice and cinnamon. Mash up and serve warm or chilled.
3. Turnips and potatoes. Mash them together and season with salt and pepper.
4. Kale, and add a handful of chopped currants, salt and pepper.
5. Butternut squash and season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Steam …
1. Artichokes for a long time (about an hour) to get flavorful leaves perfect for dipping! Try them with a tasty almond pate.
2. Any of your favorite vegetables with citrus juice and zest added to the water to create bold, new flavors. Try lemon juice with spinach, orange with broccoli or grapefruit with carrots!
3. A medley of vegetables and season with some herbs. Serve over couscous.
4. Cabbage, and season with caraway seed, salt and pepper.
5. Green beans with chopped onion. Add a clove of garlic to cooking water.

Stir-Fry …
1. Pineapple and mango in a honey ginger sauce for a perfect topping to low or fat-free ice cream. 2. Zucchini, yellow squash, diced tomatoes and mushrooms with olive oil and herbs. Add some diced jalapeno for an extra kick and serve over brown rice.
3. Broccoli in olive oil and chopped garlic. Add some capers for extra zip.
4. Frozen mixed veggies. Add a dash of low sodium soy sauce, or flavor with herbs.
5. Onions, peppers, zucchini, corn and jicama. Throw in some red or black beans. Season with your favorite salsa to give it a Southwestern flair. Serve over rice.

Saute …
1. Pear and apple slices (peeled) in a skillet with a little butter until tender. Add marmalade and orange slices, remove from heat and serve for a fruity dessert.
2. Cauliflower with nutmeg and oil after pre-steaming for tasty twist on an old veggie.
3. Spinach with garlic and olive oil.
4. Green and yellow summer squash with onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. For a different twist, add chopped tomato and basil.
5. A variety of different colored peppers with onion. Serve as a side dish.

Roast …
1. Red peppers in the oven at 450, turning every 15 minutes until done (blackened skins). Peel off the skin and slice them, then drizzle in oil and garlic and refrigerate. A Perfect addition to any salad, sandwich or antipasto dish!
2. Whole red potatoes in the oven after tossing them in a mixture of olive oil, garlic and rosemary until tender for a mouth-watering side to any meal!
3. Some winter vegetables cut in large pieces – parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, beets, sweet potato are some good choices. Coat lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite herbs, and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes until tender and browned.
4. Brussels Sprouts drizzled lightly with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt. Magnifique!
5. Thin slices of sweet potato to make chips.

Grill …
1. Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and tenderloin for the perfect summer kabobs.
2. Corn on the cob. Peel and coat in a mix of seasonings such as oregano, pepper, onion and chili powders and salt with a touch of butter to help it stick. Wrap in aluminum foil and grill until tender.
3. Pineapple, peaches or mango. Top with a dollop of low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt or sherbet.
4. Asparagus and add to a salad of mixed greens, roasted peppers and toasted nuts.
5. Some eggplant, zucchini and portabella mushrooms to use in a wrap.

Stew …
1. Pears. Peel and core and stew gently in cinnamon, sugar and water until tender. Perfect for an after-dinner treat!
2. Cabbage with tomatoes and garlic to serve over rice for a unique side dish to any meal!
3. Classic stew vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, green beans, celery, onions in canned tomato sauce. Substitute canned beans like kidney beans or black beans for meat.
4. Frozen corn, onions, peppers, celery, and salsa. Serve over rice. Add some red or black beans and call it a meal!
5. Canned tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and chickpeas. Add oregano and top with sliced olives.

Blanch …
1. Almonds in water for 15 seconds and peel for a new twist on a healthy snack.
2. Basil and parsley leaves. Blend together with olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and a little lemon juice for a great pesto!
3. Broccoli and cauliflower to use on a vegetable platter for snacks and appetizers.
4. Broccoli rabe in salted water to reduce bitterness. Then cook like broccoli.
5. Carrots, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus and broccoli. Marinate in your favorite low-fat vinaigrette and serve cold. If desired, add other veggies like onions, mushrooms and peppers.

Microwave …
1. Any of your favorite chopped veggies in a bowl with an egg or two for a quick, nutritious breakfast.
2. Cranberries and orange zest with a little sugar and water to make a sweet cranberry relish.
3. Frozen or canned vegetables on those busy nights.
4. Spaghetti squash by cutting in half lengthwise and putting face down in a dish with water. Scoop out squash and serve like spaghetti with tomato sauce and/or Parmesan cheese.
5. A potato for lunch and top with low-fat cottage cheese and chives.

Ever Heard of an Intuitive Eater?

So when I was at BYU going to school, I remember an article being published about intuitive eaters. I rather enjoyed it and thought it very practical. The gist of what it said was that we have a hunger scale, say 0-10; 10 being so full you're going to die and 0 being so starving you're going to die. The author goes on to say that intuitive eaters eat when their hunger scale tips from 5 (satisfied) to 4 or 3 or so, and they just eat enough to satisfy--5 or 6. This means that they don't eat just for social or emotional reasons; rather, they listen to their bodies.

Isn't this how we were born? To listen to and be aware of our bodies' needs. Sometimes our bodies may want a little sugar, and that's ok. The author says it's important to not totally ignore those little guilty pleasures of sweets and such, but to moderate them and not to eat them just because you're bored, or it's laying around. I know a bite of something sweet after dinner is a frequent thing for Paul and I, so we just have a few bite-sized candy bars or individually wrapped things we can grab if needed. IF you didn't have anything around, you might be too hard on yourself and go crazy..eventually running to the store and buying a gallon of ice cream or something. :P

PArt of this intuitive eating, I've found, is paying attention to what your body really likes and making sure you have those healthy options on hand. I like to keep some trail mix and cranberries and almonds laying around for healthy snacks. I also keep plenty of fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruit around for my sweet tooth. Costco sells these 100% fruit bars with nothing added. They are at least 2 servings each and great to take hiking or for emergency kits.

Now dark choc. is great to have around. It's full of antioxidants, but be sure its got at least 68% cacao to benefit most from it. Cheap, low cacao% choc. isn't worth it. I also keep a jar of neutella choc. around to dip pretzels and things in for a little etc. sweet-toothing (Iknow that's milk choc., but we're allowed some lee-way, right).

Apple Flapjacks

3 cups whole grain flour
1 cup white bean flour (grind beans in wheat grinder!)
1 T baking soda
1/2 cup powdered milk or whey
1/2 t sea salt
2 T honey
2 cups buttermilk (milk with a little lemon juice)
2 cups warm water
3 T oil
4 egg yolks
4 beaten egg whites
1 large grated apple


Combine ingredients in order. Use this recipe to make waffles, hot cakes or Ebelskivers. I make pancakes with it! Serves 4-6 people. For extra crunch add 1/4 cup chopped nuts or sunflower seeds to batter. I like to add flax seeds that I grind up in a coffee grinder and wheat germ to my recipes.

Submitted by Charise:
I serve these with unsalted butter and PURE maple syrup! My kids love them and the bean powder adds protein, iron, and other essential vitamins & minerals! (Once the beans are ground, store them in the fridge.)

German Apple Pancakes

4 eggs
2 T butter
3/4 c flour (5 grain)
2 T flax seeds, ground
2 medium apples or peaches
3/4 c milk
1/4 c sucanut (unrefined sugar)
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t cinnamon


Place glass casserole dish in oven, heated to 400 degrees. Beat eggs, flour, milk and salt together for 1 minute. Remove dish from oven. Place butter in dish and rotate dish until butter is melted and sides are coated. In casserole dish, arrange apple or peach slices; pour batter over them. Mix sugar/cinnamon; sprinkle over the batter. Bake until puffed and golden brown about 20-25 minutes. Enjoy for breakfast or dessert! We double the recipe for our family of 6 people...and it's the perfect amount.

Submitted by Charise

Orange-Yogurt Muffins

1 3/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
2 t. orange zest
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 8 oz. carton orange yogurt (see HINT: below)
1/3 c oil
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c sifted powdered sugar (opt)
1-2 t. orange juice (opt)


Grease or line muffin tin with paper cups. Combine flour, sugar, orange peel, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside. Meanwhile, combine egg, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture just till moistened (batter should be fairly lumpy). Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or till golden. Cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes and if desired, drizzle the orange juice/powdered sugar mixture over warm muffins.

Submitted by Charise
HINT: When I see I have 2 oranges in my fruit bowl, I like to grate the orange peels, slice both in half, juice them and use that juice AND some of the pulp to make my own orange yogurt. I like to use a THICK plain yogurt (Greek Gods Yogurt I can find at Smith's Grocery Store), the orange juice, pulp, and a little honey. I measure out 16 oz. of yogurt and double the whole recipe...this is a favorite in our home on the weekends!

Oct 8, 2010

What Most People Don't Know About Grains

“The well-meaning advice of many nutritionists, to consume whole grains as our ancestors did and not refined flours and polished rice, is misleading and often harmful in its consequences; for while our ancestors ate whole grains, they did not consume them as presented in our modern cookbooks in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas and other hastily prepared casseroles and concoctions. Our ancestors and virtually all pre-industrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles.

All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound) in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in UNFERMENTED whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. The simple practice of soaking cracked or rolled cereal grains overnight will VASTLY improve their nutritional benefits.

Scientists have learned that the proteins in grains, especially gluten, are very difficult to digest. A diet high in unfermented whole grains, particularly high-gluten grains like WHEAT, puts an enormous strain on the whole digestive mechanism. When this mechanism breaks down with age and overuse, the results take the form of allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, and chronic indigestion. Recent research also links gluten intolerance with multiple sclerosis. During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.”
Try this recipe for a healthy and delicious hot breakfast cereal!

Five Grain Cereal Mix
2 cups wheat or spelt
2 cups millet
2 cups short grain brown rice
2 cups barley or oat groats
2 cups lentils

Mix together and grind coarsely. Store in refrigerator.

Five Grain Porridge
1 cup Five Grain Cereal Mix
1 cup warm filtered water plus 2 T buttermilk
½ tsp. salt
1 cup filtered water
1-2 egg yolks


Combine Five Grain Cereal Mix with warm water mixture, cover and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours and as long as 24 hours. Bring an additional 1 cup of water to a boil with sea salt. Add soaked cereal, reduce heat, cover and simmer several minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and stir in the egg yolks. Serve with butter or cream and a natural sweetner such as sucanut, date sugar, pure maple syrup, or raw honey.


Taken from the book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
By trying this method of eating your WHOLE grains, you will be much healthier and your children will grown up thanking you! For more ideas about healthy cooking, check out this book by Sally Fallon…it’s VERY informative!
*posted by Charise

Oct 6, 2010

Chili-Chicken Casserole

3 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed
1 can cream of chicken soup (see homemade recipe)
1 can chili
8-10 corn tortillas, cut up
2 c cheddar cheese, shredded

lettuce
olives
tomato
sour cream


Mix all together, place in oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and top is slightly crunchy. Serve topped with shredded lettuce, olives, diced tomatoes, and sour cream.

*you can use chili beans, or kidney beans with cumin and chilipowder seasoning.

Convenient Food.
Submitted by Charise.

Pasta Lugano

4 c. noodles, cooked (bowtie or penne)
1 c. Italian sausage, cooked
1 c. ham, diced (opt.)
1 c. mozzarella, cubed
2 peppers, chopped (colorful are best)
2 T. fresh basil, finely chopped
1-2 Tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. olive oil
2-3 T Balsamic vinegar


Mix all together well and let sit for at least 20 minutes (to blend flavors)

Chinese Chicken Salad

2 c. chicken, cooked and cubed
1 chinese cabbage, chopped
2 c. green onions, chopped
2 pkg. TopRamen, broken up (without seasoning added)
1/2 c. sunflower seeds or almonds
Sauce:
1/2 c. canola oil
1 t. soy sauce
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. vinegar


1. Make the sauce and set aside.
2. Mix all the other ingredients in a salad bowl; pour dressing on top
3. Refridgerate or at least wait 20 minutes before serving.

-Chalotte Nebeker

Paul's Spicy Curry

1 t. cumin
1 t. coriander
2 t. dry coconut (unsweetened)
1/4 t. mustartd powder (opt.)
1 t. ground sesame seeds
3/4 t. ginger powder
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 t. powder)
1 t. chili powder
1 t. salt
1 lb lamb or pork, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. veg oil
2 1/1 c. water
1-2 T cornstarch (opt.)


1. Mix all seasonings together with the garlic and coat the cubed meat.
2. sautee onion in oil; add coated meat and cook 5 mins
3. Add water; simmer 45 minutes (stir occassionally). Add cornstarch near the end to thicken (by mixing it with a little water first, and then pouring into the curry.

*eat with rice or lentils or garbanzo beans and ryoti or naan bread (or tortillas if that's all you have)

Salmon Croquets

1 salmon fillet (or canned salmon)
1 c. rice, cooked
2 eggs
1/2 t. ground red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
saltines, crushed
butter for sauteeing


1. Mix everything together, with just enough saltines to help things stick together, but still stay a little moist.
2. Put butter in the pan on med heat and place flattened spoonfuls of mix into pan and cook about 3 minutes on each side.

*you can do bite-sized croquets or full-size patties. I add some spinach cut in little pieces and some ground flax seed, but you can try may other variations. These taste good with yummy cheesy mash potatoes (from the Tolleys)

Cilantro-Lime Rice

3 c. rice
3 T chicken buillon
2 T lime juice
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1 t. salt


mix all and cook as you would normally cook rice.

*Idea: eat with yummy salsa baked chicken

Indian-Style Pilaf

1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. celery, chopped
1 T butter
2/3 c. rice
1 1/3 c. water
1 t. chicken buillon
1/2 t. curry powder
1/4 t. salt and pepper
1/8 t. allspice (opt)
1/2 c. raisins (opt)
1/2 c. peanuts or cashews, chopped (opt)


1. Sautee onion and celery in butter until tender
2. Stir in rice to brown it (if desired), or just add the water and seasonings at same time. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered 15-20 minutes.
3. Add remaining optional ingredients as desired.

*eat with a yummy piece of chicken (I'll bet a cranberry marinade would taste good)

A Basic Granola

12 c. oats
1 c. sweetener (dry or liquid, but mix with like textures. I love honey. Agave, maple and organic whole cane sugar work...but can add a little extra sweetener if it is not liquid)
1 c. chopped nuts
1 c. oil or butter (I do a stick butter and a few Tablespoons coconut oil...only 3/4 c total)
1 c. water
1 t. vanilla

*see more options down below

1. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.
2. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl (if using coconut oil, you'll need to melt it first; if using honey, only use 1 cup and it's best if melted first).
3. Combine both wet and dry ingredients together and mix thoroughly with hands, allowing some small clumps when squeezing ingredients.
4. Spread on 2 baking sheets and cook at 250 for 45-50 minutes; stir, then bake 45-50 more minutes.
5. Let it cool down once removed, before storing (the moisture makes it lose crunch if you store it too early). Stores well for a few months.

*I've also baked this at 350 for 30 mins, stirring 15 mins. into it. And I've also let it sit overnight before baking and then put it in the oven on the lowest setting until it smelled done (tossing it every 30 mins or so).

Additional Options
*Halloween: some cranberries and the green pumpkin seeds with pumpkin pie spice
*try using cashews, almonds and/or shredded coconut
*add chocolate chips or yogurt covered raisins at the end  (so they don't melt)
*Parfait: good with yogurt and some berries or sliced peaches
*keep some in a little baggie to snack on (add papaya or pineapple chunks)
*use as a topping for apple crisp or sweet potato casserole
*add in 1/4 cup popped amaranth for a toasty flavor
*boost the omega-3 content by adding 1/2 c. ground flax seed and/or hemp hearts

Enchilada Sauce

2 T vegetable oil
2 T flour
2 T chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1 can tmato sauce (8oz)
2 c. water
1/4 t. garlic
1 t. salt

Cook first three ingredients for 1-2 mins, then add the remaining and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 mins.

Oct 5, 2010

Teff Porridge

1 c whole grain Teff
1 T. butter
1/4 tsp. ground cloves (opt.)
3/4 c pitted dates (halved) or raisins (opt.)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3-4 T. honey
1/2 c pecans (opt.)
milk or cream for serving (opt.)

Set a heavy 2 quart saucepan over med. heat. Add the Teff and toast, stirring frequently until the grains emit a mild toasty aroma and begin to pop (3-6 minutes). Turn off heat and stand back to avoid sputtering. Add 3 cups boiling water, the butter and cloves. Stir well. Turn the head to medium, cover, and cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom. Stir in dates, salt, and honey to taste. Cover and continue cooking until the grains are tender and one color throughout (no whiteish dot in the center), about 5-10 minutes longer. Stir in more boiling water if the mixture becomes very thick before the grains are thoroughly cooked. When the porridge is done, turn off the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Stir in the pecans. Ladle into bowls and put in cream if desired. Enjoy this unique yet delicious hot cereal!

*Bob's Red Mill recipe

What is Teff - the grain?

The world's SMALLEST grain!

Teff (white-ivory or red varieties) is a cereal grain native to Northeastern Africa and Southwestern Arabia. Although it has been used in Ethiopia in particular for centuries, teff was not widely known in other parts of the world until the late twentieth century, when farmers in the Central United States and Australia began to experiment with the grain. A growing demand for teff has made it more readily available, especially in urban areas. Typically, health food stores and large grocers stock teff, either in the form of flour or in a whole grain form. The grains of teff are in fact so small that enough seeds to sow an entire field can easily be held in the hand or in a small bag, making teff an extremely portable crop. Teff has been eaten by humans and animals for thousands of years, with botanists suspecting that teff may have been domesticated as early as 4,000 BCE. In Ethiopia, teff is a vital part of most people's diets. In Ethiopia, teff is fermented and used to make injera, a traditional sourdough-type flatbread.
The grain has a very mild, nutty flavor, and it also packs a serious nutritional punch. Teff, white teff in particular, has an excellent balance of amino acids, and it is also high in protein, calcium, and iron. A cup of cooked teff contains 387 mg of calcium which is 40% of the U.S. recommended daily allowance (USRDA).

How to cook with Teff Flour: The properties are somewhat different than wheat flour (no gluten) so start off start off by substituting about 25% of the wheat flour in a recipe with teff flour.


How to use Teff Grain:
Uncooked teff grains can be used in cooking and baking in place of other types of small grains, nuts or seeds. Because of its small size, make sure to use a smaller amount of teff when substituting. For example, use 1/2 cup of teff grain for 1 cup of sesame seeds.
Teff can also be used as a thickener in soups, gravies and stews. Teff is often cooked as a porridge and when cooked, its stickiness allows it to easily be formed into cakes (polenta-like).


Teff has twice as much iron as both wheat and barley...WOW!!!


An inferior variety, red teff, has less nutritional value, although it is easier to cultivate. Along with other alternative grains like quinoa and millet, teff has become well known in the health foods community because of its great nutritional value.

So, next time you head to the health food store, be sure to pick some up and try it. Here's a GREAT recipe to try for a healthy and complete breakfast! Now a favorite in our home!

TEFF Porridge (Bob's Red Mill recipe)
1 c whole grain Teff
1 T. butter
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 c pitted dates (halved) or raisins
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3-4 T. honey
1/2 c pecans
milk or cream for serving (optional)

Set a heavy 2 quart saucepan over med. heat. Add the Teff and toast, stirring frequently until the grains emit a mild toasty aroma and begin to pop (3-6 minutes). Turn off heat and stand back to avoid sputtering. Add 3 cups boiling water, the butter and cloves. Stir well. Turn the head to medium, cover, and cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom. Stir in dates, salt, and honey to taste. Cover and continue cooking until the grains are tender and one color throughout (no whiteish dot in the center), about 5-10 minutes longer. Stir in more boiling water if the mixture becomes very thick before the grains are thoroughly cooked. When the porridge is done, turn off the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Stir in the pecans. Ladle into bowls and put in cream if desired. Enjoy this unique yet delicious hot cereal!

Salad Dressings 101

3 things that make up a basic Salad dressing:

Fat: Oil, cream, cheese, egg, etc. *ratio of 3:1 or sometimes 2:1 with the acid
Many vitamins in salad greens are fat-soluable, so they need the fat to absorb the nutrients

Acid: vinegar or citrus fruit

Seasoning/flavor: salt, sugar, garlic, etc.
To take the bite off the acid add sugar (or jam, honey, maple syrup, fruit juice or concentrate, etc.)

I'll include a few salad dressing recipes so you can make the traditional ones at home, instead of buying (Italian, Ranch, etc.). Don't be afraid to explore your options though.
----

These recipes will cover more 4 cups or more of salad - enough to serve a family or small dinner party.

Lemon Vinaigrette: Juice one lemon into container, straining the seeds. Add about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Shake well to combine. This is good on salads, but equally good on steamed vegetables for side dishes.

Avocado Vinaigrette: Place into container - avocado (whole small one or half of a large one), 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon water (or 2 if not opting for wine), 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. If you are planning to mix by shaking, use a fork first to mash the avocado, then cover and shake. Otherwise, use a hand blender or food processor to blend until smooth.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette: Add to container - 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Shake well to combine. Garnish your salad with pomegranate seeds to enhance the flavor of the dressing.

Caesar Salad Dressing: Add to food processor, blender or container wide enough for your hand blender - 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove (crushed), 1 sardine (optional), 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste and the juice of 1 lemon. Process until smooth and creamy. Cesare salad is traditionally served with romaine lettuce, croutons, shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper. Juice one lemon into container, straining the seeds. Add about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Shake well to combine. This is good on salads, but equally good on steamed vegetables for side dishes.

---
Check out this post of the top 7 salad dressings to make and ideas of what to put int he salad: click here

Which Veggies with Which Herbs?

Ever wonder what seasonings to put on which vegetables? Here's a chart of seasonings/flavors that taste good, and steaming times too (so you don't overcook your veggies)...