Tips Good Cooks Know and Wellness Wednesday March 25

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tips good cooks know title
Everyone who transitions from the Standard American Diet to eating real food discovers there is a lot more happening in the kitchen. It can become overwhelming if you don’t know some of the tips and tricks to help you use your time in the kitchen wisely. These tips came from the Splendid Table podcast and professional chef Lynn Rossetto Kasper.

1. Clean up as you go

Don’t let dirty dishes pile up. Keep a sink full of hot, soapy water. Wash your knife and your bowls as you use them and put them away. This keeps down clutter and keeps your workspace clean.

2. Organize ahead of time

The French term sounds more posh – “mise en place” – which just means everything in its place. Run through the recipe you will be making, get out ingredients and equipment you will need, prep as much as possible including chopping vegetables and measuring spices, and only after this is done do you begin cooking. If you do this prep work you suddenly realize you look like a TV chef!

3. Use the largest cutting board you can find

You can’t have a cutting board that’s too big, only one that’s too small. 24″x30″ will give you plenty of room so your food doesn’t keep falling off.

4. Keep salt handy in an open pot or dish.

When you use your fingers to sprinkle the salt from high above your food it will cascade evenly and season your food thoroughly without too much or too little in one place. Plus this is another chance to let you look totally awesome and professional. :)

5. Keep frequently used items handy

Get a basket or tray and place items on it that you use with every meal. Salt, pepper, olive oil, butter and anything else in constant use. Keep this tray handy when you are cooking so you don’t have to search for anything. I buy multi-gallon tins of olive oil which wouldn’t fit on my counter so I decant some of it into a smaller dark glass bottle with a pour spout that fits nicely next to the salt and pepper.

6. Don’t throw out your scraps

At the risk of sounding like a hoarder, this is actually a secret flavor tip. High-end restaurant kitchens freeze vegetable peels, pan drippings, bones and carcasses and turn them into flavorful stocks and broths which will then become a fabulous sauce or soup. The key here is to remember these bits are in your freezer and make time later to use them.

7. Save great tasting fats

Butter, olive oil and coconut oil are wonderful. But you can also save the bacon grease left after you cook a pan of bacon. Trim extra fat from your grassfed beef, pork or lamb and freeze it in baggies until you have a pot full then render it into amazing lard or tallow. Excess skin and fat from chicken and duck can also be rendered down into great tasting cooking fat. You’ve spent the money to buy quality grassfed, free-range meat so be sure to get your money’s worth by using the high quality fat, too.

What are your best kitchen tips? Share them here in the comments, and be sure to check out the great link ups with today’s Wellness Wednesday.


Healthy Pregnancies: Looking at Epigenetics and the Difference a Healthy Lifestyle Makes

baby knowles watermark titlesThis is a guest post done for Kimi Harris of The Nourishing Gourmet who is taking some time off for maternity leave. Congratulations to the Harris family!

What if it were possible to press a genetic reset button? To wipe away something that has been plaguing generations of your family. To give your children and grandchildren a fresh new future. The key to finding this genetic reset button lies within the science of epigenetics, and then the application of some timeless wisdom.

This article is possibly one of the most exciting for me to write because this topic melds two fields about which I am passionate; these fields intrigue me and make me want to learn more and more and more. The first is the cutting edge field of science called epigenetics, and the second is the historically significant field of ancestral diets. “Cutting edge science combined with dusty old diet studies from 100 years ago or more? How can this possibly excite?” you ask. Well because when you link the new information with the old you have the ability to radically change families, to help parents give their children AND grandchildren the best health possible, in some cases to even save lives.

To read the rest of this article please go here….

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Wellness Wednesday and Green Smoothies

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

green smoothie titlesIt’s Wellness Wednesday! First my tip of the day and then it’s on to all of the great blog link ups. I can’t wait so let’s get started!

My Spin on Green Smoothies

Most of the green smoothies I hear about frankly sound disgusting. A whole blender full of chard with maybe an apple chunk thrown in or a handful of raw cashews. Ok, they sound healthy and spartan and full of virtuousness, but not very tasty. I also don’t want to be eating a ton of the kinds of raw greens that are so high in oxalic acid that i can’t absorb all the good minerals in my food either.  My solution is to add a handful of really nutritious super-greens to my regular smoothie recipe. I’m thrilled to be growing my own greens this spring, so it’s super easy to pick parsley, dill, mustard, leaf lettuce and a little red russian kale leaves to add to my morning smoothie.  I’m getting a whole-food vitamin and mineral boost plus the probiotics, calcium, protein, good fats and creaminess of kefir.

Wellness Wednesday

 


Irish Nachos

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

irish nachos titlesI have to thank my friend, Meghan, for giving me the idea for this post. She is highly qualified to make these being both Irish (on her dad’s side) and Mexican (on her mom’s side).  There are enough recipes out there for the traditional Irish foods like corned beef and cabbage, or sausage and boxty (I did those last year). And since we are a No Artificial Colors blog having something faux-green is right out. I was captivated by this fun, light-hearted take on St. Patrick’s Day food since it uses lots of real food in a delicious, fun, family-friendly way.

The idea is simple yet brilliant. Make a big pan of oven-fries (the inspiration for my fries comes from Lidia’s Italy) and then top your fries with traditional nacho ingredients. To keep the Irish theme be sure to use plenty of Kerrygold butter and cheese. (We love Kerrygold, not because it’s Irish but because they pride themselves on using milk from grassfed cows.)  Be sure to use plenty of fresh cilantro and/or parsley on top because it is both green (can you wear cilantro instead of a shamrock if you don’t want to get pinched?) and it’s also really good for you. irish nachos potatoes title

Irish Nachos

for the potatoes

6 good sized organic Russet potatoes

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter

1 teaspoon sea salt or herbed season salt such as Rosemary Celtic Sea Salt

preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and slice them into thin wedges, at least 8-10 per potato, maybe more depending on how big your potatoes are. Thinner wedges get crispier. Thicker wedges are more like steak fries. Melt together the butter and olive oil. Toss the potatoes with butter mixture and sprinkle on the salt or seasoned salt and toss well. Place the wedges skin-side down in a large cast iron skillet or stoneware baking sheet or on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It may take more than one pan to fit them all in. Cast iron or stoneware help the potatoes brown better. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning the potatoes over once or twice to help them cook. If you’re using two pans be sure to rotate pans during the cooking. While the potatoes are cooking assemble the rest of the ingredients for the topping so you will be ready as soon as the potatoes are done.

for the toppings

1 lb. grassfed ground beef (or make the Irish sausage recipe and use that to top your nachos)

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (no-MSG! use my recipe to make your own)

8-10 ounces Kerrygold cheese, shredded

3 green onions, thinly sliced

salsa (make your own probiotic salsa here)

sour cream (read the label, nothing but cream and cultures should be in it, we like Daisy)

chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Brown the ground beef. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and mix well. Assemble the remaining ingredients. Feel free to add any other nacho toppings you want like black olives, jalapenos, or bacon. Mmmmmm, bacon….

for the nachos

When the potatoes are done pull them out of the oven and turn on the broiler. While the broiler is heating up, spread the seasoned ground beef evenly over the potatoes. Evenly spread the shredded cheese over the ground beef. Slip the potatoes, beef and cheese back into the oven and broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melty. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining toppings. Serve at once.

Irish Nachos
 
Author:
Cuisine: Irish and Mexican
 
A fun spin on nachos to make your St. Patrick's Day, or any day, more festive!
Ingredients
  • 6 good sized organic russet potatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or herbed season salt like Rosemary Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 lb. grassfed ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (no-MSG)
  • 8-10 ounces Kerrygold cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • other nacho toppings as desired
Instructions
  1. To make the potatoes preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Scrub the potatoes and slice them into thin wedges, at least 8-10 per potato, thinner wedges make crispier fries.
  3. Melt together the butter and olive oil and toss with the potatoes along with the salt.
  4. Place the potatoes skin-side down in a large cast iron or stoneware baking pan, or a parchment-lined baking sheet using more than one pan if needed to fit the potatoes in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes turning once or twice to help brown evenly.
  6. While potatoes are cooking assemble the remaining ingredients for the toppings.
  7. Brown the ground beef and season with taco seasoning and/or more salt if needed.
  8. When the potatoes are done pull them out of the oven and preheat the broiler.
  9. While broiler is heating top the potatoes with the ground beef and the shredded cheese.
  10. Return potatoes to the oven and broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
  11. Remove from the oven and top with remaining nacho toppings and serve at once.

 Tell us how you like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at your house. Leaves us a comment here and don’t forget to pin this recipe to use again – there’s no rule saying you can’t have these anytime!

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Pie for Pi Day

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Pie for Pi Day titlesPi – the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter – is a favorite of the mathematical world. In its decimal form it is a number that never ends and never falls into a repeating pattern. Pi Day is celebrated around the world every year on March 14th. This year is special because not only is it 3.14 it is also 2015 making the date 3.14.15 so if you celebrate Pi Day at precisely 9:26 and 53 seconds a.m. you can hit the first ten digits of Pi …  3.14.15 and 9:26:53 (3.141592653)

Enough with the math – on to the food!  It is customary to celebrate Pi Day with, what else, PIE! So without further ado here is a round-up of some delectable pie recipes ripe for your Pi Day celebrating. Go all out and eat pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and raise a fork to Newton, Einstein, Pythagoras, Fibonacci, Pascal, Descartes and all the other great minds who made numbers look so easy. Here’s a baker’s dozen pie recipes, mostly sweet, a few savory. Enjoy your Pi and your Pie.

Pies for Pi Day

Cherries and silky smooth custard make Cherry Clafoutis from Traditional Cooking School the perfect choice for a breakfast pie.

Don’t like to bake? Here’s a No=Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie from Melissa K Norris.

Apple is a classic pie so here’s an Apple Crumb Pie recipe from Katie at Simple Foody.

Mouthwatering Crispy Coconut and Chocolate Pie from Deep Roots at Home will tantalize your tastebuds.

A gluten-free real food spin on the classic pumpkin – here’s a Pumpkin Pie recipe from Never Lacking Zeal.

Need something small? How about Cranberry Apple Mini-pies from Nourishing Gourmet.

Worth Cooking does great things with allergy-free cooking ingredients like this Lemon Pie.

Honey is the sweetener for this Strawberry Pie from the Humbled Homemaker.

Don’t Waste the Crumbs shared this Key Lime Pie recipe a few summers ago and includes instructions for homemade sweetened condensed milk.

This Raspberry Cream Pie from Common sense Homesteading just screams summer.

And don’t forget Chocolate Peanut Butter Deluxe Pie from Amazing Graze Farm.

If you don’t want sweet how about savory like this Pizza pie from us here at Well Fed Family.

Or Tamale Pie from Farm Fresh Feasts.

P.S. Here’s a late entry for South African Peppermint Crisp Pie from Keeper of the Kitchen that you won’t want to miss!

Leave a comment on the blog with your favorite pie recipe and thank them for making your Pi Day so delicious! Then leave a comment here telling us which pie you made – and no, you don’t have to tell us the circumference or the diameter of your pie pan.

 

 

 

Cajun Catfish and Homemade Cajun Seasoning

Cajun-Seasoning-and-Catfish-Traditional-Cooking-School-GNOWFGLINS-main2-jpgThis post is one of my regular blogs for Traditional Cooking School:

The Acadians began as French settlers of a region called Acadia — in eastern Canada and northern Maine — but they eventually traveled down the Mississippi River in the 1750s to escape difficult British rule. Near the end of that long river, the Spanish finally welcomed them in what would become Louisiana.

The Acadians settled down and got cooking, developing some of the tastiest food anywhere. Étoufée, boiled crawfish,  gumbo filé, and fried catfish became trademark dishes for these folk, whose name was soon shortened to just Cajuns.

Cajun food focuses on local ingredients found in the bayous and river delta, and (unsurprisingly) their menus feature fish and seafood quite often. In addition to the traditional French mirepoix (diced onion, carrot and celery), the Cajuns like to add garlic, cayenne pepper, and plenty of black pepper to make zesty, full flavors.

Although their basic seasoning combination is…. (You can read the rest here)

Leave me a comment here or at Traditional Cooking School and let me know your favorite way to eat catfish!

Wellness Wednesday March 11

sleep solutions titleSo glad you are stopping by for Wellness Wednesday this week! With the time change we are feeling like we have jet lag in the mornings. So I headed online to look for ways to help us get back to a healthy sleep schedule. I pinned this article about tart cherry juice from Health Home & Happiness.  This “sleepy dust” from Butter Believer is another idea that would be easy to whip up tonight before bed. And this magnesium body butter from Radiant Life blog is my all-time favorite for relaxing. I just rub it on my feet right before bed to moisturize and calm at the same time. What are your favorite sleep remedies? Write a blog and tell us about it by linking back here at Wellness Wednesday!


Homemade “Robbers” Essential Oil Blend

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robbers blend titles slightly largerTalk to just about anyone who has been using essential oils and they have probably heard about that blend of oils with a trademarked name that means “burglar” or “robber”. At about $44 for 1/2 oz. retail price it can get expensive quickly if you use a lot. If you already have a good collection of single essential oils you probably have everything you need to make your own “robber” blend.

What makes this blend so useful is that all of the oils used in it have antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal properties. Several also support healthy respiratory and immune systems. Plus it just plain smells good!

To make custom blends you need a clean, dark glass lidded container to put it in. You also need to label your blend with the ingredients and their amounts plus the date you made it. Essential oils last a long time, but after about two years they may begin to lose their potency, so that’s why it’s important to date your blends.

Homemade “Robber” Essential Oil Blend

Clove essential oil 9 drops

Lemon essential oil 7 drops

Cinnamon essential oil 4 drops

Eucalyptus essential oil 3 drops

Rosemary essential oil 2 drops

Place all of the oils in a clean, dark glass bottle. Label with ingredients and date. Roll the capped bottle gently between your hands to warm the oils and help them to mix together. Store your essential oils in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator.

If you want the convenience of a pre-made blend that also includes the spicy notes of Frankincense try the Bandito blend from BeeYoutiful.

The Power of Essential Oils

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power of essential oils titlesI know more and more moms who are using essential oils; they are making their way into more and more people’s lives. Used to be you could only find them in health food stores or online, but now they are popping up in drug stores, department stores and even theme park boutiques. Just because you can buy them in a store doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful. Your neighbor’s sister’s cousin may be selling essential oils to her playgroup, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used without some wisdom and instruction.

Turn a bottle of aspirin, Tylenol or Advil around to the back and you can read an extensive list of instructions, warnings and side effects. Just because you can buy them just about anywhere from drugstores and grocery stores to airports, gas stations and hotel lobbies doesn’t mean they are ok to give to just anyone of any age in any amount. These common over-the-counter drugs are powerful and must be used as directed. That seems obvious – that’s why they have “child proof” caps right? The same is true for essential oils. They, too, come with cautions on the label and child-proof caps on top. This is because essential oils can be powerful tools to help us just like these OTC meds.

Stephanie Tallent, one of the owners of the wellness website BeeYoutiful, explained to me that some people are more sensitive to both the benefits and the side effects of essential oils. In particular pregnant women, babies and young children have specific dosing guidelines that should be followed when using the oils, especially if using them internally. Some oils are so strong they really shouldn’t be used with anyone younger than 13 years old. This is why Stephanie urges everyone who uses essential oils to make the effort to get educated about their use. Her company not only sells essential oils, but also offers quite a few free health resources.

Each essential oil contains on average about 100 different active components. These different compounds work in synergy with each other and with the compounds in other oils. This is why it is important to buy high quality pure essential oils. The cheap knock-offs aren’t going to have the right balance and quantity of active ingredients. Many essential oils are also adaptogens, meaning they instigate a reaction within the body to help it achieve a more balanced state. You won’t get that from artificial oils and perfume fragrances.  For optimum safety the majority of essential oils must be diluted before you rub them on your body or ingest them.

The bottom line is if you are going to use essential oils you need to respect their potency. There are so many tools available to anyone wanting to take control of their own health. The first line of strategy needs to be addressing the diet, cleaning it up and filling it with wholesome foods along with herbs and spices that support good health. Next in line would be supplements to target specific needs such as vitamins, amino acids or cod liver oil.  Essential oils will be more effective when you have a strong foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Then you may find you don’t need those OTC drugs and you can clean out your medicine cabinet to make room for more oils! table of strength comparison for various methods of personal careHow can you learn how to use essential oils safely? There are many books available that teach you about the different uses and safety guidelines. One I really like is Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. Valerie has written many books on essential oils, she teaches certification courses and does research into their uses. In this book she gives practical instruction on how to use essential oils safely with any member of the family and in any room of the house, office and even the garden. There are also several online course available through Vintage Remedies for those who want to learn about the evidenced-based side of aromatherapy.

Tell us your favorite ways to use essential oils. Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page!