Jan 31, 2013

Kitchen Tip: freeze and Grate Whole Lemons

Mom sent this info, but unsure of the exact source. its a great idea for using fresh lemon that you freeze

How can you use the whole lemon without waste? Simple.. place the washed lemon in the freezer section of your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your foods.  Sprinkle it on your salad, ice cream, soup, cereals, noodles, spaghetti sauce, rice, sushi, fish dishes.... the list is endless.

What's the major advantage of using the whole lemon other than preventing waste and adding new taste to your dishes?  Well, you see lemon peels contain as much as 5 to 10 times more vitamins than the lemon juice itself. And yes, that's what you've been wasting.  But from now on, by following this simple procedure of freezing the whole lemon, then grating it on top of your dishes, you can consume all of those nutrients and get even healthier.  It's also good that lemon peels are health rejuvenators in eradicating toxic elements in the body.

Who knew, right? The surprising benefits of lemon!  In fact, Lemon (Citrus) is reported to kill cancer cells. It is considered also as an anti microbial spectrum against bacterial   infections and fungi, effective against internal parasites and worms, it regulates blood pressure which is too high and an antidepressant, combats stress and nervous disorders. Hence why lemon essential oil is so great to have in you home health cabinet!

Jan 28, 2013

Jan 25, 2013

Healthy Orange Julius

4 oranges, peeled
2 cups kefir or yogurt
1 t.  vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 cup raw honey
2 cups ice

Blend all together and happy drinking!

This recipe is shared from Jennifer Maybe, who got it from www.riddlelove.com
She's also got other types of smoothies if you'd like to explore healthy breakfast drinks.

Jan 24, 2013

Basic Cooked Quinoa Variations

Quinoa can be substituted for rice or any grain in many meals, but here are a few simple ways to cook it for a side dish.

1. Basic cooking instructions
Cook 1 part grain to 2 parts water. Boil and reduce to low for 10 minutes covered. I then typically leave mine covered in a pot for five more minutes, but that isn't necessary per say.

2. Change the liquid medium and seasonings used
I like mine best cooked in chicken broth for typical dinner side dishes, but can do beef or coconut milk too. Sometimes I add seasonings during cooking, but never salt or pepper until the end, because salt actually inhibits some grains from absorbing as we'll.

3. Add variety
I like to use a teaspoon curry powder during cooking (try with coconut milk) and craisins (during cooking for plump, moistness or after..either works). Then top with cashews. This is very couscous feeling and was the first attempt I made cooking quinoa for my moms birthday years ago.

We also make a Mac-quinoa and Cheese baked recipe with milk, cheese, egg that is fairly simple and my 2 year old likes it. We typically add peas or ou could do small broccoli pieces or something. This is a basic casserole dish you can add lots of variety to.

My favorite way is just to cook in chicken broth then add shredded spinach right at the end with the burner off. Then I cover the pot for those last five minutes and let the spinach wilt enough that its warm. Then top with salt and pepper and feta cheese.

Another super simple way is to just cook it plain and add crushed nuts and salt and pepper on it at the end.

And my favorite way to stuff red peppers is cooking quinoa in beef broth after first sautéing onions, garlic, ginger and cumin powder. Then top with cilantro and salt and pepper. (I think I got them all, but check out my stuffed red pepper recipe for sure, in case I missed something).

I do a basic mexican type casserole with it too by adding corn, black beans, salsa, etc.

But if you cook it plain, then you can save some for a breakfast oatmeal or  for a rice pudding type dessert. At night I sometimes just add milk and raisins and cinnamon and give it to Ethan for a cold dessert. Warm the same thing up for a hot breakfast (add a drop of lemon juice to help with the flavor if you want).

Grain Challenge - January: Oats

This information is from www.wholegraincouncil.org
January is Oats Month
January has long been celebrated as National Oatmeal Month. (So it's only right we start off the challenge with this familiar grain.


Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary defined oats as "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people." The Scotsman's retort to this was, "That's why England has such good horses, and Scotland has such fine men!"
Oats (Avena sativa) have a sweet flavor that makes them a favorite for breakfast cereals. Unique among the most widely-eaten grains, oats almost never have their bran and germ removed in processing. So if you see oats or oat flour on the label, relax: you're virtually guaranteed to be getting whole grain.
In the U.S., most oats are steamed and flattened to produce rolled oats, sold as "old-fashioned" or regular oats, quick oats, and instant oats. The more oats are flattened and steamed, the quicker they cook – and the softer they become. If you prefer a chewier, nuttier texture, consider steel-cut oats, also sometimes called Irish or Scottish oats. Steel-cut oats consist of the entire oat kernel (similar in look to a grain of rice), sliced once or twice into smaller pieces to help water penetrate and cook the grain. Cooked for about 20-30 minutes, steel-cut oats create a breakfast porridge that delights many people who didn't realize they love oatmeal!

Raw Oats, newly harvested
This is what oats look like before the kernels (groats) are separated from the hulls and stalks. Admittedly, you won't see them this way in stores, but we thought you'd like to see what they look like fresh from the fields.
Whole Oat Groats
A groat is another name for a grain kernel. Whole oat groats are the result of simply harvesting oats, cleaning them, and removing their inedible hulls. You can most often find these in health food stores. They take the longest to cook.
Steel Cut Oats
If you cut groats into two or three pieces with a sharp metal blade, you get steel cut oats. They cook quicker than oat groats, because water can more easily penetrate the smaller pieces. Steel cut oats are also sometimes called Irish oatmeal.
Scottish Oatmeal
Instead of cutting oats with a steel blade, the Scots traditionally stone-grind them, creating broken bits of varying sizes, which some say results in a creamier porridge than steel-cutting.
Rolled Oats – regular (old fashioned)
Rolled oats (sometimes called old fashioned oats) are created when oat groats are steamed and then rolled into flakes. This process stabilizes the healthy oils in the oats, so they stay fresh longer, and helps the oats cook faster, by creating a greater surface area.
Rolled Oats – quick or instant
If you roll the oat flakes thinner, and/or steam them longer, you create quick oats and ultimately instant oats. The nutrition stays the same (these are all whole grains) but the texture changes – a plus for some people and a drawback for others. The good thing about having so many choices is that everyone can get exactly the taste they like best!
Oat Flour
Oat flour is a whole grain flour that can be used in baking, or for thickening soups and stews. 


Scores of studies have documented the many health benefits of oats.
  • Eating oats helps lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Oats help you feel fuller longer, which helps control your weight.
  • Oatmeal and oats may help lower blood pressure.
  • Oats may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, since their soluble fiber helps control blood sugar.
  • Oats help cut the use of laxatives, without the side effects associated with medications.
  • Oats are high in beta-glucans, a kind of starch that stimulates the immune system and inhibits tumors. This may help reduce your risk of some cancers.
  • Early introduction of oats in children's diets may help reduce their risk of asthma.
  • Oats are higher in protein and healthy fats, and lower in carbohydrates than most other whole grains.
  • Oats contain more than 20 unique polyphenols called avenanthramides, which have strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itching activity. (Which is increased when taken with vitamin c--so drink some OJ with your morning oats!)

How to store

Oats are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the oats are covered, free from debris, and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Smell the oats to make sure that they are fresh. Whether purchasing oats in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture.
If you purchase prepared oatmeal products such as oatmeal, look at the ingredients to ensure that the product does not contain any salt, sugar or other additives.
Store oatmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for approximately two months.


 Although oats do not actually contain gluten, they are generally grown alongside gluten grains such as wheat and barley, which is why many people with gluten intolerance cannot eat them. However, pure, uncontaminated, certified gluten-free oats (which can be ordered online or sometimes found in health food stores) can usually be tolerated by those with celiac disease. In rare cases, a protein called avenin has triggered an immune response similar to that of gluten in some people with celiac disease. Proceed with caution if gluten is an issue for you.

Cooking time: Bran, 5-7 minutes; rolled, 10 minutes; steel-cut, 20-40 minutes; groats, 45-60 minutes
Liquid per cup of grain: Bran and rolled, 2 cups; steel-cut and groats, 3 cups
How to cook oats:  With the exception of whole oat groats, oats are among the only grains that should be stirred while cooking. For oat groats, combine groats with water in a pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes until tender. For steel-cut, rolled or oat bran, combine with the appropriate amount of water in a pot and, covered, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for required time, stirring often (stir steel-cut oats less), until desired consistency is reached. Season with milk or soymilk, dried or fresh fruit, your favorite spices and a small amount of low-glycemic sweetener, if you wish. A spoonful of nut butter stirred in before eating also makes a delicious addition. (from drweil.com)

Here are some more tips to get your oats in...
1. Opt for Healthier Instant Oatmeal
2. Make Some Muffins With Oats
3. Substitute Oats for Other Fillers
4. Add Toasted Oats to Other Dishes
5. Thicken Soups and Stews with Oats
6. Cook up a Fruit Crisp
7. Replace up to 1/4 the amt of Flour With Oats
8. Move Over, Chocolate Chip Cookies--try oats and use applesauce instead of the oil
9. 'Oatify' Your Homemade Bread
10. Make your own granola

Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal


Heart healthy oat cookies
Baked blueberry oatmeal
PB banana oat squares

Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal/Hot Cereal

IF you want oatmeal, without having to worry in the morning, why not try overnight steelcut oats. It is the whole oat groat cut into smaller pieces (like cracked wheat). The nutrition is mostly the same as rolled oats, but it takes longer to cook. 

  • 1 cup steel cut oats (or other whole grains...a blend of them is great. You can even throw in a few lentils.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dates
  • 1/2 cup dried apples
  • 4-5 cups water
  • Milk (or rice milk...both are optional)
  • small pinch of salt
  • milk (opt.)
  • cinnamon (opt.)
  • sweetener (opt., as desired)

Heavily grease a slow cooker and then place all ingredients in it and set to low heat. 
Cover and let cook about 8 hours (make sure there is plenty of water and check at 8 hours, because this could be done at 6 hours and get burnt and crusty if you're not careful and don't add plenty of water).
Add milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup or sweetener as desired once done. Otherwise it will be too bland. I prefer mine more runny and milky, and not thick mush.

You can also put the spices in during the night (even when i used a whole cinnamon stick)--though mine still seem lacking in flavor this way sometimes. so dont forget the salt and extra fixings. And the best option would be to soak the oats for about 12 hrs (with a spoonful of kefir, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or buttermilk), and then cook it slow. This helps to break down the phytic acid in the whole grains and makes it fluffier and easier for you body to digest.

Grain of the Month Challenge

Join Us as we celebrate a new grain each month this year, to go along with the Whole Grain Council monthly topics.

 Each month I'll post on one grain and include nutritional info, photos, various forms of the grain and some recipes we use the grain in. Feel free to try them and other recipes and then send the ones you like to me and we can post yours too.

Here is some information on grains and their importance that is from www.gowiththegrain.com.

Most Americans recognize that grains are good for us, yet many remain uncertain about the health benefits they provide. The best approach to maintain a healthy diet? Variety.
There are eight common grains consumed in America: wheat, barley, oats, rice, corn, millet, rye and sorghum. These grains can be consumed as whole grains, but some can also be found in their enriched form.
Popcorn, whole grain couscous, cracked wheat and oatmeal are popular forms of whole grains found in the U.S. Pseudo-grains, including buckwheat, quinoa and wild rice are also accepted as whole grains.
When selecting grain foods consider the many types available and vary them in your diet. Eating a variety of grains not only ensures that you get more nutrients, but also helps make your meals and snacks more interesting.
All grains start life as whole grains.
In their natural state growing in the fields, whole grains are the entire seed of a plant. This seed is made up of three key parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm.
What makes whole grains healthy?
Whole grains are composed of the entire kernel — the bran, germ and endosperm — and are an important source of antioxidants, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and numerous other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. As part of a healthy diet, whole grains may reduce the risks associated with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Whole grains may be eaten whole, cracked, split or ground. They can be milled into flour or used to make breads, cereals and other foods. If a food label states that the package contains whole grain, the "whole grain" part of the food inside the package is required to have virtually the same proportions of bran, germ and endosperm as the harvested kernel does before it is processed.

Are All Whole Grains Good for You?
Short answer: No. 

Many People suffer from celiac disease--inflammation inside their digestive system--because of certain gluten-containing whole grains. After doing lots of researching on this topic, I have come to the conclusion that today's commercial grains typically sold are way different than those historically grown. Plus, many are for feeding livestock and are not organic, but have been genetically modified.

Our society has changed the structure of wheat, to the point that many have a difficult time digesting it. Not all whole grains are created equal. We need to be careful when consuming whole grains, especially since our society is laden with misinformation. So be wise and pay attention to the whole grains you eat. Shoot for organic, not genetically modified, and heirloom varieties. Some may want to soak their grains to break down the phytic acid which makes them hard to digest. Or, some may want to only do gluten-free grains. 

I personally don't even use wheat anymore, but there are older versions (kamut, spelt) that I prefer. I also try to stick to many gluten-free varieties (quinoa, millet, etc.; not wheat, barley, rye, etc.) so as to avoid potential problems. But the most important things are to be informed and to do what is best for you. 

Here is the Whole Grains challenge...it can help you know where to start in trying new grains. 

Will you take the challenge with us?
You can search our blog recipes for each grain by typing in the search box, or search my recipe boards on pinterest (for lots of untried recipes just waiting to be explored--but if you do this, please comment on the pins so i get feedback and can add the recipes to this blog as posts), or you can search the web for other recipes. Whatever floats your boat!

Check back each month for the new grain adventure!
Click on the month below for each new post (or find them in the right-hand column under the grains link, though you'll have to scroll through them). The new month's link will be added each month below:

January - Oats
February - Barley
March - Quinoa
April - Sprouted Grains
May - Amaranth
June - Sorghum
July - Wheat (spelt/kamut)
August - Rye & Triticale
September - Rice & Wild Rice
October - Corn
November - Millet & Teff
December - Buckwheat

Reading Labels: Identifying Whole Grains

The Whole Grains Council has created an official packaging symbol called the Whole Grain Stamp that helps consumers find real whole grain products. The Stamp started to appear on store shelves in mid-2005 and is becoming more widespread every day. This article is from their website: wholegrainscouncil.org. 


With the Whole Grain Stamp, finding three servings of whole grains is easy: Pick three foods with the 100% Stamp or six foods with ANY Whole Grain Stamp.
The 100% Stamp assures you that a food contains a full serving or more of whole grain in each labeled serving and that ALL the grain is whole grain, while the basic Whole Grain Stamp appears on products containing at least half a serving of whole grain per labeled serving.


Until the Whole Grain Stamp is on all foods, how can consumers know if a product is whole grain?

First, check the package label. Many whole grain products not yet using the Stamp will list the grams of whole grain somewhere on the package, or say something like "100% whole wheat." You can trust these statements. But be skeptical if you see the words "whole grain" without more details, such as "crackers made with whole grain." The product may contain only miniscule amounts of whole grains.

Words you may see on packagesWhat they mean
  • whole grain [name of grain]
  • whole wheat
  • whole [other grain]
  • stoneground whole [grain]
  • brown rice
  • oats, oatmeal (including old-fashioned oatmeal, instant oatmeal)
  • wheatberries
YES -- Contains all parts of the grain, so you're getting all the nutrients of the whole grain.
  • wheat, or wheat flour
  • semolina
  • durum wheat
  • organic flour
  • stoneground
  • multigrain (may describe several whole grains or several refined grains, or a mix of both)
MAYBE -- These words are accurate descriptions of the package contents, but because some parts of the grain MAY be missing, you are likely missing the benefits of whole grains. When in doubt, don't trust these words!
  • enriched flour
  • degerminated (on corn meal)
  • bran
  • wheat germ
NO -- These words never describe whole grains.
Note that words like "wheat," "durum," and "multigrain" can (and do) appear on good whole grain foods, too. None of these words alone guarantees whether a product is whole grain or refined grain, so look for the word "whole" and follow the other advice here.


If the first ingredient listed contains the word "whole" (such as "whole wheat flour" or "whole oats"), it is likely – but not guaranteed – that the product is predominantly whole grain. If there are two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain (in other words, it could contain a little bit of whole grain, or nearly half).

Trail Mix Bars

These are yummy, but trail-mixy. So if you don't like nuts, seeds, fruit and esp. peanut butter...then they aren't for you. But they hold together well. I just store mine in the fridge until they're gone. They make a dozen bars. 
I like cranberry, almond, date version. The dates are subttle, but fruity. And I love that you don't have to add any sugar or oil, etc.

1/2 cup nut butter
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
3/4 cup dried fruit (apricots, cherries, raisins, dates, etc.)
1/4 cup mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, etc.)
1 cup rolled oats

In a small pot heat almond butter and mashed bananas. Stir gently until well combined. Set aside.
In a food processor, coarse chop the almonds, apricots, raisins and cherries. Transfer to a bowl. 
Mix in seeds and oats. Fold in the almond butter mixture. 
Line wide loaf tin with parchment paper and press the batter it. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350F.  Let cool before cutting into bars/squares.

*from http://www.anjasfood4thought.com/2010/11/almond-butter-granola-bars.html

Jan 23, 2013

Dairy-Free Whipped "Cream"

Ever had coconut milk? Well, you can make whip cream out of it.
Just store that in your fridge overnight and then the next day open the can from the bottom and drain out the liquid. With the leftover cream you can just blend it and voila...you have a dairy-free Whip cream alternative. But it needs to stay cold and doesn't hold it's form the same way as the typically whip cream, so you just have to get use to the differences. Hopefully you like the coconut flavor!

You can add cocoa powder for more of a chocolate topping. :)


Here is a basic hummus recipe that tastes just as good as store-bought hummus. Or better. I really liked it. And I've tried to make homemade hummus lots of times. The key ingredient is cumin!

1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. Cumin powder
1/2 t. Salt
1-2 T olive oil
1 t. Lemon juice (or as desired)

Just process everything together into the yummy spread and eat with pita chips or crackers. Try our homemade artisan crackers.

Once you have this basic recipe down its easy to just add other things in, like cooked carrots or something else you may want to hide in a yummy dip.

Here's another version that mom likes...
2 cans garbanzo beans, one can drained.
Blend in blender with olive oil (maybe 2 T), I also have
avocado oil so put some of that in, with seasonings:
Garlic, onion, basil, salt, lemon pepper, etc.
You can add fresh herbs, or dry.

Jan 22, 2013

Grain Cooking Times

Wholegrain Cooking Guide

Grain Nutritional Comparison

*from wholegrainscouncil.org