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Month: February 2009

Sandi’s Bourbon Chicken

Sandi’s Bourbon Chicken

Boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 pounds, can be frozen)
½ cup bourbon
3 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cranberry juice cocktail
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
¾ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 fresh sliced jalapeno

Place all ingredients, except chicken, in a gallon size freezer bag. Seal and shake to mix. Add chicken. Seal and shake to coat chicken. Place in refrigerator to marinate overnight. Turn over occasionally to thoroughly coat chicken. Pour chicken and marinade into a glass pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until barely done. Cut chicken into large bite-sized pieces. Cook in hot iron skillet to brown the outside, reduce to medium heat and add marinade to skillet. Cook stirring occasionally until sauce thickens. Serve immediately. This dish does not taste as good when reheated.

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Fried Rice

Fried Rice

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 – 1½ cups peas and carrots
1 – 1½ cups leftover meat (cooked)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Ginger
3 cups cooked brown rice
3 eggs
Tamari sauce (or soy sauce)

Heat coconut oil in skillet on med-high. Add meat, vegetables, rice, onion powder, garlic powder, and ginger powder. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes stirring occasionally. Beat the eggs. Make a well in the center. Pour in eggs and cook for about one minute. Gradually incorporate the egg into the rice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until egg is done. Add tamari sauce to taste and cook for 2 more minutes.

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Light and Easy Sauce for Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, and Other Steamed Vegetables

Light and Easy Sauce for Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, and Other Steamed Vegetables

I originally mentioned this sauce in response to a comment on Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce.

This is the easiest sauce I’ve come up with for steamed vegetables. I used to serve them with Ranch dressing, which is a tasty way to eat them, but it can clash with other sauces, and it tends to overpower the vegetables. Some things I love about this sauce are:

  • You don’t actually have to do the work of making a sauce
  • It does not dirty another dish
  • It is very versatile – you can adjust the flavors to compliment your main dish
  • It is not a heavy sauce, which is nice sometimes especially if your main dish already uses a thick sauce

Here is how to make it.

After you put the vegetables in the steamer basket, before you turn on the heat, place some pats of butter and some spices (whatever you like!) on top of the vegetables and splash them with a bit of lemon juice. When it has finished steaming you will have a tasty sauce in the bottom of the pan that you can spoon over the veggies.

That’s it! Very easy.

Usually I use garlic powder and salt (I like that best for Brussels sprouts) but you can go crazy with the spices. When I make asparagus, I usually add dill. If you don’t like or don’t want the lemony flavor, you can skip the lemon juice. Adding a little soy sauce instead might work. I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know if it will try to stick to the pan, but you could always add it after the steaming is done.

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All or Nothing

All or Nothing

I originally wrote this in 2004. I think it is still good advice.

Healthy eating does not require an all or nothing approach. While it would be ideal to grow all our own organic foods, starting with perfect soil, growing all of our own fruits and vegetables, raising our own meat fed on only perfect grasses and feed that we grew ourselves, and on from there, it is not very realistic for most
people to do this. The information can be overwhelming and the urge to jump in completely is well founded. It can also be discouraging. With all the bad foods out there and the bad foods that look like good foods, we can start to wonder if there is any way to really find and eat healthy food.

Every little bit helps. If you can only change your diet one item at a time, you will feel and taste the benefits. Do not give up just because you cannot go all the way right away. Some people never fully make the transition, but they are still better off for each meal or food item that is of better quality. I have tried to
go all organic many times over the years, and gave up because it was too expensive or too difficult to obtain good food. I always believed that I had to do it 100% or it was just a waste of time. When I went back to standard commercial and chemical laden foods, I always noticed that my favorite new recipes just did not taste as good this time, and that I was more tired and did not digest my food as well as I had been. It sometimes took a while for me to make the connection.

If you are unfamiliar with choosing and eating organic food or working on a limited budget, it is OK to start out with just a few items. This may mean making one entire meal completely from better foods, or by consistently using one or two organic ingredients. Over time you will get a feel for which brands you like best, what is cost effective, and how to find what you really want. Often small natural food store have a co-op program that you can buy into and get a discount on their products. These stores are usually more than happy to special order products for you, too. If you simply cannot find a local supplier look for food online. You will be surprised how many things can now be ordered and shipped directly to your home. Ask around! You can often find local sources for things
like eggs, milk, and produce who do not advertise. Call your chamber of commerce and your county extension office for advice on finding these people.

Do not let the urge to be a perfectionist stand in the way on your path to eating healthier and more delicious food.

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Confused About Fat? Choose Grassfed!

Confused About Fat? Choose Grassfed!

Confused About Fat? Choose Grassfed!
by Jo Robinson
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In my Grandma’s day, there was no such thing as a bad fat. All fat was “good” simply because it tasted good. My Grandma fried her eggs in bacon grease, added bacon grease to her cakes and pancakes, made her pie crusts from lard, and served butter with her homemade bread. My grandmother was able to thrive on all that saturated fat—but not my grandfather. He suffered from angina and died from heart failure at a relatively young age.

My grandfather wasn’t alone. Population studies from the first half of the 20th century showed that Americans in general had a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease than people from other countries, especially Japan, Italy and Greece. Was all that saturated fat to blame? The Japanese were eating very little fat of any kind, while the people of the Mediterranean were swimming in olive oil, an oil that is very low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated oils.

So, in the 1960s, word came from on high that we should cut back on the butter, cream, eggs and red meat. But, interestingly, the experts did not advise us to switch to an ultra-low fat diet like the Japanese, nor to use monounsaturated oils like the Greeks or Italians. Instead, we were advised to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated oils—primarily corn oil and safflower. Never mind the fact that no people in the history of this planet had ever eaten large amounts of this type of oil. It was deemed “the right thing to do.” Why? First of all, the United States had far more corn fields than olive groves, so it seemed reasonable to use the type of oil that we had in abundance. But just as important, according to the best medical data at the time, corn oil and safflower oil seemed to lower cholesterol levels better than monounsaturated oils.

Today, we know that’s not true. In the 1960s, researchers did not differentiate between “good” HDL cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Instead, they lumped both types together and focused on lowering the sum of the two. Polyunsaturated oils seemed to do this better than monounsaturated oils. We now know they achieve this feat by lowering both our bad and our good cholesterol, in effect throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Monounsaturated oils leave our HDL intact.

In hindsight, it’s not surprising, then, that our death rate from cardiovascular disease remained high in the 1970s and 80s even though we were eating far less butter, eggs, bacon grease, and red meat: We had been told to replace saturated fat with the wrong kind of oil.

During this same era, our national health statistics were highlighting another problem, this one even more ominous: an increasing number of people were dying from cancer. Why were cancer deaths going up? Was it the fact that our environment was more polluted? That our food had more additives, herbicides and pesticides? That our lives were more stressful? That we were not eating enough fruits and vegetables? Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

But there was another reason we were losing the war against cancer: the supposedly “heart-healthy” corn oil and safflower oil that the doctors had advised us to pour on our salads and spread on our bread contained high amounts of a type of fat called “omega-6 fatty acids.” There is now strong evidence that omega-6s can make cancer cells grow faster and more invasive. For example, if you were to inject a colony of rats with human cancer cells and then put some of the rats on a corn oil diet, some on a butterfat diet, and some on a beef fat diet, the ones given the omega-6 rich corn oil would be afflicted with larger and more aggressive tumors.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, we were getting a second helping of omega-6s from our animal products. Starting in the 1950s, the meat industry had begun taking our animals off pasture and fattening them on grains high in omega-6s, adding to our intake of these potentially cancer-promoting fats.

In the early 1990s, we learned that our modern diet was harboring yet another unhealthy fat: trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids are formed during the hydrogenation process that converts vegetable oil into margarine and shortening. Carefully designed studies were showing that these manmade fats are worse for our cardiovascular system than the animal fats they replaced. Like some saturated fats, they raise our bad cholesterol. But unlike the fats found in nature, they also lower our good cholesterol—delivering a double whammy to our coronary arteries. “Maybe butter is better after all,” conceded the health experts.

Given all this conflicting advice about fat, consumers were ready to lob their tubs of margarine at their doctors. For decades they had been skimping on butter, even though margarine tasted little better than salty Vaseline. Now they were being told that margarine might increase their risk of a heart attack!

Some people revolted by trying to abandon fat altogether. For breakfast, they made do with dry toast and fat-free cottage cheese. For lunch, they ate salad greens sprinkled with pepper and vinegar. Dinner was a skinless chicken breast poached in broth. Or better yet, a soy burger topped with lettuce. Dessert? Well, after all that self-denial, what else but a big bowl of fat-free ice cream and a box of Snackwell cookies. Thank goodness calories no longer counted! Only fat made you fat!

Or, so the diet gurus had told us. Paradoxically, while we were doing our best to ferret out all the fat grams, we were getting fatter and fatter. We were also becoming more prone to diabetes. Replacing fat with sugar and refined carbohydrates was proving to be no more beneficial than replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated oils.

At long last, in the mid-1990s, the first truly good news about fat began to emerge from the medical labs. The first fats to be given the green light were the monounsaturated oils, the ones that had helped protect the health of the Mediterraneans for so many generations. These oils are great for the heart, the scientists discovered, and they do not promote cancer. They are also a deterrent against diabetes. The news came fifty years too late, but it was welcome nonetheless. Please pass the olive oil!

Stearic acid, the most abundant fat in beef and chocolate, was also found to be beneficial. Unlike some other saturated fats, stearic acid does not raise your bad cholesterol and it may even give your good cholesterol a little boost. Hooray!

Then, at the tail end of the 20th century, two more “good” fats were added to the roster—omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, the fat found in the meat and dairy products of ruminants. Both of these fats show signs of being potent weapons against cancer. However, the omega-3s may be the best of all the good fats because they are also linked with a lower risk of virtually all the so-called “diseases of civilization,” including cardiovascular disease, depression, ADHD, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.

So, some of you may be wondering, what does this brief history of fat have to do with grassfarming? Few people realize that all omega-3s originate in the green leaves of plants and algae. Fish have large amounts of this good fat because they eat small fish that eat smaller fish that dine on omega-3 rich algae and phytoplankton. Grazing animals have more omega-3s because they get the omega-3s directly from the grass. In both cases, the omega-3s are ultimately passed on to humans, the top of the food chain.

Products from grassfed animals offer us more than omega-3s. They contain significant amounts of two “good” fats, monounsaturated oils and stearic acid, but no manmade trans-fatty acids. They are also the richest known natural source of CLA and contain extra amounts of vitamin E and beta-carotene. Finally, grassfed meat is lower than feedlot meat in total fat and calories, making it ideally suited for our sedentary lifestyles.

I don’t believe it’s a matter of luck or chance that grassfed products have so many of the good fats but so few of the bad. In fact, I’ll wager that the more that is discovered about fat in the coming years, the more grassfed meat will shine. The reason for my confidence is simple: our bodies are superbly adapted to this type of food. In the distant past, grassfed meat was the only meat around. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors either brought home a grazing ruminant such as elk, deer, or bison, or a predator that preyed on those animals. Either way, the nutrients found in grass made their way into the animals’ flesh, and ultimately, into our own.

Over the eons, our bodies began to “expect” the kinds and amounts of fat found in grassfed meat. Our hearts counted on the omega-3s to stabilize their rhythm and keep blood clots from forming. Our brain cells relied on omega-3 to build flexible, receptor-rich membranes. Our immune systems used the omega-3s and CLA to help fend off cancer. And because wild game is relatively lean, our bodies weren’t burdened with unnecessary amounts of fat or calories.

When we switch from grainfed to grassfed meat, then, we are simply returning to our original diet, the diet that is most in harmony with our physiology. Every cell and system of our bodies function better when we eat products from animals raised on grass.

Jo Robinson is a New York Times bestselling writer. She is the author or coauthor of 11 nationally published books including Pasture Perfect, which is a comprehensive overview of the benefits of choosing products from pasture-raised animals, and The Omega Diet (with Dr. Artemis Simopoulos) that describes an omega-3 enriched Mediterranean diet that may be the healthiest eating program of all. To order her books or learn more about grassfed products, visit http://eatwild.com.

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Check Out Frugal Healthy Simple!

Check Out Frugal Healthy Simple!

I have added a new blog to my blog list – Frugal Healthy Simple. You should check it out, it’s great! The recipes look good, but what I really love is the way it is written.

Marcia explains how she made the food, why she chose certain ingredients, including substitutions. She makes use of what she has on hand and demonstrates how that can be done without diminishing the greatness of the dish. This is something that is hard for people who are still dependent on recipes for full instruction, so I her explanations can really help!

She also lists the cost of each ingredient, so you can get a real feel for how her methods work to save money on food while still creating good, yummy stuff.

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Bean, Rice, and Cheese Rolls

Bean, Rice, and Cheese Rolls

I created this recipe when I was working with a very limited budget. I had made a huge batch of homemade beans and rice and we were sick of eating it! We had plenty of rolls, butter, mozzarella, parmesan, and fresh garlic. I was not an experienced cook at that time, but I knew I could do something with what I had on hand that would be delicious and satisfying. The results were much better than I had expected.

I used black beans and 7 grain rice. I have also had good results with Anasazi beans.

Cooked beans
Cooked rice
Cooked rolls
Butter
Fresh garlic (minced or sliced thinly)
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Mix beans and rice together. Pull the top off of each roll. Press the inside of the roll until you have formed a cup. Place a pat of butter in the bottom of the roll. Add garlic to taste. Press a scoop of the bean and rice mixture into the roll. Salt to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan. Add another part of butter, more garlic, bean and rice mixture, salt, and parmesan making two layers. Top with mozzarella. After adding the mozzarella press the filling firmly into the roll ( the mozzarella will protect your hand from getting gooey from the mixture). Keep adding mozzarella and pressing until the roll is well stuffed. Try not to overstuff and break through the sides of the roll.

Bake at 350 until cheese melts and starts to brown.

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Half Sour Pickles

Half Sour Pickles

Half Sour Pickles
by Katheryn Weber

9-12 Kirby pickling cucumbers
2-3 cloves garlic, cracked
6-8 sprigs of fresh dill (optional)
1/4 tsp. dill seeds (optional)
1 tsp whole pickling spices
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 quarts water

Thoroughly wash cucumbers and slice in half. Place cucumber, dill, and spices into a large clean jar. Bring salt, vinegar and water to a boil and boil for two minutes. Pour brine over pickles and using a clean glass to keep pickles from surfacing. Let the pickles sit on the counter until cool and then remove glass, cap the jar and store in the refrigerator a few days before eating. Experiment with the spices as you like.

Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in authentic Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE E-book “Easy Money – 3 Steps to Building Massive Wealth with Feng Shui” visit www.redlotusletter.com and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!

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Katie’s Chicken Fingers

Katie’s Chicken Fingers

I have subscribed to Katie’s newsletter for years and I love it! It’s called the Red Lotus Letter and it’s all about feng shui. Her article about feng shui in the kitchen will apear here next month. In the meantime, she has offered a couple of her favorite recipes.

From Katie:

Sandi – great blog! Love the concept of “real.” I am a foodie and put dinner on the table every night at 6:00. Dinner is a precious time in our family. I make a lot of different kinds of foods – Indian, Persian, Greek, you name it. But the recipes everyone enjoys the most are the “plain cooking” type. This will bring every kid within five miles to the table. Hope you enjoy them. Thanks again, Sandi!

Katie’s Chicken Fingers

by Katheryn Weber

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups (or much as needed) Kellogg’s Cornflake Crumbs*
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour flour and seasoned salt into a plastic bag. Add chicken pieces a few at a time and shake to coat. Set two shallow pie plates aside with the egg in one and cornflake crumbs in the other.

Shake off flour from chicken and dredge in egg and then into cornflake crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken. Do this with each piece. Pour vegetable oil into a large jellyroll baking pan and place in the oven for five minutes. Place the chicken into the heated oil. Bake for 10 minutes and turn the pieces over and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Place tenders onto a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with ketchup or favorite sauce. Enjoy!

*If you can’t find Kellogg’s Cornflake Crumbs at your grocery store, simply add cornflakes to your food processor and process until they are turned into crumbs. Store in the freezer in a zippered plastic bag.

Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in authentic Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE E-book “Easy Money – 3 Steps to Building Massive Wealth with Feng Shui” visit www.redlotusletter.com and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!

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Cooking Tools: My Friend the Food Processor

Cooking Tools: My Friend the Food Processor

For years I refused to spend money on a food processor. What a shame. I now have a full sized, a miniature, and a “chopper” – a hand operated version. The “chopper” was my first. I used it for making guacamole and salsa. I loaned that out and did not get it back soon enough and got desperate for an aid in making my salsa. So, I purchased a mini food processor. The mini works great for your everyday stuff like cutting up a little garlic or onion. With onion it helps to minimize crying! Later I was making salsa weekly for a local restaurant and gave in and bought a full sized food processor. Now, I use all three and have found that they each serve a unique purpose.

If you are willing to donate the elbow grease, the chopper is best for guacamole and salsa because the motorized types can cause a foamy effect, particularly with guacamole. If you can only purchase one I recommend the mini food processor. This is purely personal choice, but when you are just working with small amounts, such as garlic for one meal, the full size just throws it around, and most of it is stuck to the sides. If you make a lot of creamed soups, you will want the full sized. You may still have to work in batches, but it will go much faster.

The reason I recommend food processors so highly is really convenience/quality. The food processor saves so much time and effort that you are more likely to use fresh ingredients, and therefore produce higher quality meals. If I did not use the food processor, I would get lazy and use powders more often than fresh.
Then, there are salads, etc, which can be made without cutting all those ingredients by hand, if you just slide them through the food processor. Once you establish the habit of using a food processor, you will naturally revert to using fresh ingredients. You and those you cook for will notice a huge difference!

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