Mud Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches (GF)

mud cookies title

So I’ve been teaching Sunday School for the past two years now. But this is Sunday School like you’ve never seen it. I have the coolest classroom – it’s a little cafe with a real kitchen area. We teach Bible stories and use hands-on cooking projects to cement the lesson in the kids’ minds and hearts (and stomachs!) This week we’ve been getting ready for a big Open House to show off all the neat classrooms and creative lessons being used to teach Jesus’ Love to these sweet kids. I’m going to do a cooking demo for the Open House – I’m making Mud Cookies. We used this recipe when we taught about the Miracles of Jesus. In chapter 9 of the New Testament book of John it tells how Jesus made mud with some dirt and saliva, and rubbed it over the eyes of a man who had been born blind. He then sent the man to wash it off in one of the city fountains. When the man washed off the mud he could see!

mud cookies

mud cookies

Our cookies start out looking like a bowl of lumpy mud. In fact they look pretty gross – you mix cocoa powder with egg whites which looks an awful lot like dirt and spit. But soon after stirring and stirring the batter gets shiny, then you drop spoonfuls onto a parchment paper and bake them. What you get are the most deep, dark chocolate cookies you can imagine!  My classroom recipe only makes 10 cookies because our little oven only holds that many, but you can easily double the recipe to make a bigger batch. And you will definitely want to do that because we discovered that these cookies make the perfect sandwich for homemade vanilla ice cream! Oh. My. Goodness. My son made the vanilla ice cream today from the Well Fed Family free ice cream ebook (have you gotten yours yet? sign up for the newsletter using the link on the right side of this website and we’ll send it to you for free!), we used these cookies to make ice cream sandwiches for dessert tonight. Perfect! They are just the right texture, just like those soft cookies that come with the eskimo pies from the ice cream truck. And oh so chocolatey!  What a perfect way to use up the egg whites leftover from making the ice cream!

Mud Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup egg whites (about 3)

1/2 cup organic sugar or honey

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Mix everything together in a medium bowl. Use the honey if you don’t mind having a chewier cookie, the sugar will make it a little firmer but less nutritious. However these are dessert – so don’t feel like using honey means you can eat the whole batch yourself ;)   Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until they are dry on top to the touch but still springy. Cool on the baking sheet for a minute or two and then use a metal spatula to remove to a cooling rack. Use two cookies, flat sides together, with two tablespoonfuls of ice cream to make the sandwiches. Eat immediately or wrap in wax paper to freeze for later.

Mud Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches (GF)
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 5
 
Dark chocolate, gluten-free cookies bake up just right for using in ice cream sandwiches.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup egg whites (about 3)
  • ½ cup organic sugar or honey
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • vanilla ice cream, homemade or good quality store bought
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Use a heaping tablespoon of batter for each cookie spooned onto the parchment, leaving some space between the cookies.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the top is dry but still springy.
  5. Allow to cool on the parchment for a few minutes before using a metal spatula to remove to a cooling rack.
  6. To make sandwiches place one cookie flat side up on a plate.
  7. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of softened ice cream onto the cookie and top with the flat side of a second cookie.
  8. Press slightly to spread filling to the edges.
  9. Eat immediately, or if desired, wrap in wax paper and freeze to eat later.

 

mud cookies with homemade vanilla ice cream

mud cookies with homemade vanilla ice cream

I can definitely see these with variations. Maybe sub peppermint extract for the vanilla for mint chocolate mud cookies. Or use any of the other ice cream flavors in our free ice cream ebook, wow, how about peanut butter ice cream with these chocolate cookies! Leave a comment and let us hear your great flavor ideas! Pin for later or share on Facebook using the links above the blog.

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Thai Chicken Burgers with Lime Mayo and Snow Pea Slaw

thai chicken burgers with titleTo say my daughter loves this menu would be an understatement. Whenever she sees me meal planning she begs me to include these burgers. When she noticed me pulling out the recipe to blog she asked hopefully, “Can we have these tonight?” And I agree they are delicious. We’ve served them to company because even though it’s casual fare it’s still enough of a flavor carnival in your mouth you feel special just eating it.

A couple of notes about the ingredients:  Sriracha sauce is a very spicy Thai sauce made from hot chili peppers, vinegar and garlic. It’s easy enough to find in most grocery stores BUT it’s important to read the labels because most of them have chemical preservatives in them – don’t ask me why because there’s nothing in hot chilis, vinegar, garlic and salt that needs extra chemicals! So anyhow, look for a sauce without preservatives. Lee Kum Kee makes one and so does Shark Brand.  The red curry paste is another ingredient that needs label reading. Red curry paste should be just a mixture of flavorful herbs and spices including lemongrass, galangal, Kaffir lime, and chilies. But sometimes you will find msg or chemical preservatives, too. I like Thai Kitchen’s red curry paste, but I’ve read good things about Mae Ploy brand and both of those have good ingredients.

To get this all on the table at the same time here’s the order I do things:  First I mix up the Lime Mayo sauce and refrigerate it, then I mix up the slaw with the dressing and let it marinate. Then I like to get the burgers all mixed up and shaped into patties on a tray. The burgers will absorb all the flavorful ingredients as they sit. Lastly I slice up the sweet potatoes and get them into the oven so they will be done when the burgers are grilled. If you don’t want to heat the kitchen at all you can actually make the sweet potato fries on the grill, too, but you’ll need to get them started before the burgers since they take a little longer. Once the potatoes are going I grill the burgers. Poultry burgers must be fully-cooked, no medium or rare with these guys! I use an instant-read thermometer to check that they are done. A minimum of 165 degrees is recommended.

Lime Mayo

3/4 cup safflower mayonnaise (or homemade)

zest and juice of one lime

2 Tablespoons of Sriracha sauce (use less if you don’t like it hot)

Snow Pea Slaw

1 cup julienned snow peas

1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage

1 cup julienned bell peppers, use orange, red, or yellow for the prettiest salad

1 1/2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon raw honey

Thai Chicken Burgers

2 pounds ground chicken (you can also use ground turkey or a mixture of both)

3 scallions, sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons raw honey

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon red curry paste

6 cloves garlic, pressed

Sweet Potato Fries

1 medium sweet potato per person

coconut oil

sea salt

For the Lime Mayo sauce:  Combine everything in a small bowl and set aside.

For the Slaw: Combine the vegetables, stir in the remaining ingredients and toss well to coat with the dressing. Set aside.

For the burgers: Combine the ground chicken, scallions, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, curry paste and garlic mixing well in a large bowl. Divide the mixture into eight 4oz patties. Grill over medium-high heat about 4-5 minutes per side. Burgers are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the sweet potato fries: Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise into wedges about 3/4″ thick, at least 8 wedges per potato. Toss the slices with melted coconut oil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. You can roast them in a cast iron or stoneware baking pan at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, or you can grill the wedges on a medium-high grill for about 12 minutes per side. If they begin to burn on the outside before they are tender in the middle, move them away from the direct heat and allow them to continue cooking.

Thai Chicken Burgers with Lime Mayo and Snow Pea Slaw
Author: 
Recipe type: menu
Cuisine: Thai-inspired
 
Thai flavors infuse the slaw, dressing and burgers for an explosion of flavor
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup safflower mayo
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 2 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • 1 cup julienne sliced snow peas
  • 1 cup julienne sliced orange, red or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 cup thinly slice red cabbage
  • 1½ Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 lbs ground chicken or turkey
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red curry paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed
  • sweet potatoes
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt
Instructions
  1. For the sauce: Combine the mayo, zest and juice, and Sriracha sauce in a bowl, set aside.
  2. For the slaw: Combine the snow peas, peppers, and cabbage in a bowl.
  3. Add the vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce and honey and toss well to combine making sure the dressing coats the vegetables.
  4. For the burgers: Combine the chicken with the green onoins, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, curry paste and garlic in a large bowl.
  5. Use your hands to mix the meat and seasonings well.
  6. Shape into eight patties, 4oz each.
  7. Grill over medium-high heat until burgers reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  8. For sweet potatoes: Slice potatoes lengthwise into ½" wedges, about 8 wedges per potato.
  9. Use one medium potato per person.
  10. Coat the slices with melted coconut oil and sea salt.
  11. Roast the potatoes in a 425 degree oven, or grill them over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes.

 

snow peas, red cabbage and peppers make colorful slaw

colorful snow pea slaw

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3 Easy Ways to Support Your Lymph System

3 easy ways to support lymph titleWe all want strong immune systems. Most people have heard about taking vitamin C, or eating garlic, and if you’re up on your GAPS protocol knowledge you know about getting plenty of sunshine, eating fermented foods, and plenty of healthy fats. One often overlooked area of the immune system is the lymph system.

The lymph system is made up of special vessels, nodes and spaces all over your entire body from head to toe. It is filled with a special fluid, called lymph, that starts out as part of your blood, but slowly leaks out of the blood and takes with it anything dangerous or toxic. The lymph fluid holds onto these toxins until they can filter them through the nearest lymph node. The nodes isolate and neutralize the toxins by making special white blood cells. The neutralized toxin is released back into the lymph fluid and excreted with the rest of the body’s waste.  Eventually the lymph fluid travels all around the body and ends up in a special area right behind the heart. It enters the heart through the thoracic duct and the fluid is returned to the circulation system where the whole cycle starts all over again.  Your tonsils, bone marrow, thymus gland and spleen are also a part of the lymphatic system.

When you catch a cold or a sore throat one of the first things you notice, maybe even before you realize you are sick, is swollen lymph nodes. This is because your lymph system is already hard at work trying to fight off disease. It’s important to take care of your lymph system since it is one of our first lines of defense.

We all know our blood circulates on its own, quite rapidly, throughout the body making the trip from head to toe about once every minute or so. The fluid in the lymph system moves much more slowly. It makes the blood look like a Class V rapids in comparison! No, the lymph system is more like the lazy river – except that’s not exactly accurate since rivers flow on their own. The lymph system requires help to flow. You don’t want stagnant lymph, you want it to flow and circulate and clear away the toxins as efficiently as possible. So here are three things you can do every day to move your lymph along.

1. Exercise.  Our lymphatic systems depend on the contraction of our muscles to move along and circulate. Sitting for too long causes the lymph fluid to stagnate. Sometimes this fluid builds up and causes swelling – sometimes in your ankles and lower legs – which is uncomfortable and not very safe either.  Daily exercise helps activate the lymph circulation. Gentle movement like walking or tai chi can be as effective as more strenuous exercise when it comes to moving lymph.

dry brush

dry brush with detachable handle

2. Dry Brushing. Lymph only flows in one direction – toward the heart. So dry brushing done correctly is a great way to move that fluid along where it needs to go. Dry brushing also helps shed dead skin cells, a beauty bonus. To get started purchase a natural bristle brush with a long handle like this one. Before your daily bath or shower is a good time to do it. Start with the bottoms of your feet and cover your entire foot with firm, longish strokes moving evenly up from the foot to lower leg to thigh and hips. Do the same thing with hands moving up toward shoulders, and torso moving from hips and buttocks up toward the heart. Do both feet/legs and both hands/arms. Every stroke should move toward your heart. You can end with reaching the brush to mid back and stroking up over shoulders toward the heart. Then shower or bathe as usual. Dry brushing is most effective when done daily for at least three months.

lemons and oranges

drink the juice from half a lemon

3. Lemon water. The first thing you drink every morning should be something that benefits your health. So put the coffee or sodas, or even milk or juice, on hold while you have a glass of lemon water. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a 16oz mug and fill it with warm water. Drink the warm lemon water first thing to give your lymph system a boost as it dumps out all of the toxins it has accumulated from the day before and during the night.

Try these three ideas to nurture your lymph system now. This will help you get ready for all those back-to-school germs by helping to build and boost your immune system.  Share this post with your friends by using the Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook links at the top of the page. We’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment!

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Homemade Grilled Pizza

I am grateful to have the opportunity to do some writing for the wonderful GNOWFGLINS blog! This blog post is my first assignment with Wardeh and her talented team. Please stop by over there and read the post in its entirety and then please leave me a comment!

“On any given day roughly 25% of Americans are eating pizza. That’s a sizable chunk of calories for a single food category. According to one food blogger’s investigation, the ingredient lists of nearly every major pizza chain contain enough chemicals to stock a chemistry lab. Thankfully making pizza at home from scratch is easy and it’s something the whole family can do together. It’s especially fun to use your grill! You’ll not only love the amazing brick oven-crispy-chewy, full-flavored pizza, you’ll also appreciate not heating the kitchen up to 500 degrees in the summer. With these techniques, your grill, and my special Italian pizza dough and sauce recipes (some of which I learned while in Italy) you and your family will be transported across the sea to Naples, the birthplace of pizza.”    read more…..

homemade grilled pizza

homemade grilled pizza

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Sleep Deprivation: Are We Torturing Ourselves?

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torture?

Sleep deprivation is used by government agents around the world as part of prisoner interrogation and torture. The European Convention on Human Rights calls it inhumane and degrading. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez oil spill were all related to sleep deprivation.  So why do we do it to ourselves voluntarily?

My daughter tells me a lot of the girls on her softball team like to brag about who stayed up the latest. A 4th grade boy in my Sunday School class came in one morning and said, “I stayed up until 3 watching TV!” Another mom I know told me she routinely stays up until at least 2a.m. doing little projects or reading, and then she’ll get up at 6a.m. to start breakfast. And since Facebook puts a time stamp on your posts and I can routinely see friends who have posted well after midnight. This is voluntary sleep deprivation folks!

Food, sleep, physical activity, and stress management are the four big health areas which can make or break our health. Going without sleep is a big form of stress both physically and mentally.  Depression, irritability, temper tantrums, loss of memory, and inability to focus are all signs of sleep deprivation. But so are heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure all related to chronic lack of sleep. Even weight gain is related.

We need to make sleep a priority for ourselves and our children. Sleep is essential for optimal growth in children and teens, but it is also essential for growth in adults. Adults may have stopped growing taller, but we still continue to grow new cells throughout our bodies to repair and replace the ones that have worn out. From 10p.m. to 2a.m. is the peak repair and detoxification time for everyone, children and adults. So don’t think you can stay up until 2a.m. and just sleep in the next day to make up for it – it doesn’t work that way.

How much sleep is enough? It depends on the individual but as a general rule adults need 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours each night. Babies and toddlers can sleep up to 12 hours. Children and teens need close to 10 hours, so don’t let your teenager tell you they can stay up late and get up early – they need that extra couple of hours pretty much all the way through college!

How can you get on a good sleep schedule? The number one thing that regulates your sleep cycle is light.  Natural light during the day stimulates your circadian rhythm to get in sync. As evening comes the amount of light should decrease, and that include artificial light. By 9p.m. in the summer and earlier in fall and winter you should dim the lights and close down the computer.  There are computer programs you can get that will automatically dim your computer lights in the evening to reduce the stimulation that light gives your brain that keeps you awake. You can also wear amber-tinted glasses which will do the same thing.

Kids are most at risk with all their technology devices. Their brains desperately need sleep, so make it a hard and fast rule that all devices are turned off completely at bedtime. Don’t put those cell phones next to the bed, put them across the room or in another room completely and turn them off!

Getting some kind of exercise each day will help you feel ready for bed at night. So will avoiding any caffeinated drinks after about 2p.m. Then you can create a sleep environment for each family member that is relaxing, comfortable, quiet and dark. Sleeping in the darkest room possible will help you sleep more deeply and release more melatonin naturally.

Sleep is when we repair. Sleep is when we regenerate tissue. Sleep is when we increase and boost our immune system. Sleep is when we reboot a lot of our body’s processes. Make it a priority starting tonight!

Leave us a comment and share your best tips for falling asleep and getting a good night’s rest.

RJ sleeping on the floor

Make sleep a priority

Lamb Stew with Rosemary, Garlic and Leeks

Lamb Stew with Rosemary title

Several years ago, I honestly can’t remember how long ago, I bought a little rosemary plant. It grew and grew and grew and occasionally I would remember to transplant it into a bigger pot. Then I decided I needed as much edible landscaping as possible so one of the things I did was to plant that rosemary into the ground by the front door. Now it’s gotten so big it reaches out into the walkway and brushes against you as you pass. It smells so good! But recently my husband commented that he felt like it was going to grab him and not let go , so I decided I had to trim it back. I filled a half-gallon jar with branches and gave them away at last week’s farm foods/raw milk pickup, but still that rosemary reaches out.  That’s where this recipe comes in – anyway to use more rosemary is a good thing!

We love lamb and I have a freezer full of lamb right now, but if you like beef better you can certainly substitute some nice grassfed beef stew meat for the lamb.

Lamb Stew with Rosemary, Garlic and Leeks
Author: 
Recipe type: stew
Cuisine: Mediterranean
 
Fragrant rosemary permeates this comforting stew. Serve it over garlic mashed potatoes for an easy supper.
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. lamb stew meat cut into bite-size chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tblsp fresh rosemary needles, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 large leek, washed and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups beef broth, preferably homemade
  • 20 olives, green or black, pitted and halved
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tblsp chopped fresh parsley for garnish, opt.
Instructions
  1. Drizzle the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Sprinkle the lamb with salt.
  3. When the oil is shimmering add the lamb to the pot and brown it on each side for a few minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in the rosemary and garlic stirring well and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the chopped leek and celery continuing to stir, and cook for two or three minutes until everything is fragrant.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and broth, reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, covered, until the vegetables and meat are tender.
  7. Stir in the olives and sprinkle with fresh black pepper and cook another ten minutes.
  8. Taste and adjust for salt if needed.
  9. Garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

a bumble bee visits my rosemary bush

a bumble bee visits my rosemary bush

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11 Ways to Get Your Energy Back and Restore Your Adrenals

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized.

I’m so thankful for all of the people who have the creative ability, time and energy to put together these fabulous informational online summits I’ve been enjoying lately! The Reversing Diabetes Summit in May, the Grow Your Own Food Summit in early July, and now the Functional Health Summit going on as I write this.  Today’s presentation on natural approaches to adrenal burnout from Dr. Ron Grisanti was one I wished I could have heard about two years ago when I first became aware I was suffering from adrenal fatigue. Knowing what Dr. Grisanti shared would have helped speed my own recovery and also answered a lot of questions about what was going on.

I don’t remember how I first heard about adrenal fatigue or adrenal burnout, but I did find a lot of good advice from Dr. Wilson’s book Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome. If you are tired all the time but have difficulty falling asleep (night owl), or find yourself getting dizzy when you stand up too quickly, or have a constant craving for salt you might want to look into this further. Dr. Wilson has a quiz on his website that can get you started.  Be sure to ask your doctor if you suspect it for yourself.  In the meantime, anyone can benefit from these 11 tips from Dr. Grisanti to restoring energy and nurturing your adrenals.

1. Remove the stressors in your life – both the internal and external ones. External stressors include the obvious ones like job, finances, relationships, and environmental toxins. Internal stressors might be harder to see and can be things like undiagnosed gluten sensitivity, GI infections, leaky gut, impacted teeth or prescription medication reactions.

2. Go to sleep by 10pm every night. Physically our bodies use the time between 10pm and 2am to repair and detoxify. If you aren’t asleep it can’t happen.

3. Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Caffeine stimulates your adrenals, and if they are already taxed then caffeine can push them off the cliff.

4. Keep your glycemic load low. Look up the Glycemic Index and try to choose most of your foods from the list of those at 50 or lower on the glycemic scale. A Paleo-style diet is recommended.

5. Minimize TV and computer use – especially after 8pm.

6. Exercise as much as you can tolerate, but don’t over do it. And certainly don’t do long-duration cardio workouts like distance running which can actually harm your adrenals. Instead do HIIT exercises (High Intensity Interval Training) and resistance training as well as yoga or tai chi.

7. Stop multi-tasking. Doing everything all at once and living a fast-paced lifestyle creates cumulative stress on your adrenals. Slow it down and concentrate on one thing at a time. Consider using meditation or HeartMath technology.

8. Don’t skip breakfast. Take time the night before to plan your breakfast the next morning so you won’t be too rushed to eat. Half of an avocado and a scrambled eggs with some fermented salsa will give you lots of healthy fats and protein plus antioxidants and probiotics for a great start. Check out the Breakfast Recipes here on this site using the links on the right side of this page.

9. Don’t eat sugar. This is a time for serious recovery, so be serious with your diet. Sugar only adds to your stress by causing inflammation throughout your body.

10. Use a high quality sea salt and use it liberally (unless you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure). The adrenals use a lot of salt.

11. Balance your carb/protein/fat intake. Most people eat too many of the wrong kinds of carbs and not enough of the right kinds of fat. Again, a Paleo diet is recommended.

Again, your doctor can test you for adrenal fatigue through blood tests, cortisol tests and other specific tests. He can also help you determine if you might have food allergies, heavy metal toxicity or other issues that could be causing your fatigue.

Restoring your adrenals to optimum health is one of the longest health journeys you can take – because it takes a long time to wear them down in the first place and you can’t undo years, maybe decades, of abuse in just a few weeks. Don’t give up hope – and try out these suggestions. Pin this article for later, or Tweet it to share with friends using the media buttons at the top of the page. Leave us a comment and let me know what you have found to be the most helpful thing in your recovery journey!

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Tomato Basil Soup

tomato basil soup title

 I hope your summer garden is giving you an abundance of basil, because you will definitely want to make this soup! It is easy enough for a fast weeknight supper (we like it along with grilled cheese sandwiches), but delicious enough for a special meal. Don’t try to substitute dried basil, the flavor just won’t be the same. If you are lucky enough to have a surplus of fresh tomatoes you can use those instead of using the canned tomatoes called for in the recipe. Just use about 3 lbs. of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped; and add about 20 minutes to the cooking time to let them break down well enough before blending.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tomato Basil Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: Italian
 
Aromatic fresh basil is used in abundance to make this delicious but simple soup.
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1½ teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15 oz can of whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-2 teaspoons raw honey
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves (about 1 large handful) plus more for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and cook only about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and salt and cook one minute.
  4. Pour in the chicken broth and stir well.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer about 20 minutes.
  6. Roughly chop the fresh basil and stir into the soup.
  7. Place the soup in a blender, one half of it at a time, and puree until smooth, or use an immersion blender and puree directly in the pot.
  8. Taste for salt, and serve garnished with more slivered basil if desired.

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Your Homeowners Association Doesn’t Want You to Read These Two Books

In an ideal world my family and I would be living on five to ten acres with room for one or two of each kind of fruit-bearing tree or bush that could possibly grow in this climate. I’d have a large vegetable garden plus another for herbs and flowers. In reality we live in a little neighborhood in suburbia on a 1/5 acre lot with neighbors on both sides. Our location seems ideal for a small family; less than half and hour drive to Disney or the beaches. We’ve managed to make connections with many farmers, farmer’s markets and local food producers.  Probably a lot of you reading this are city dwellers too. You might also be dreaming of a little homestead someday – gardens, orchards, chickens, bees, a few goats…

But until the winning lottery ticket comes your way you might think it is all just a nice day dream. Here are a few books that might just change your mind. When you finish reading you might just be tempted to start ripping out the shrubbery and digging up the front lawn!

skip the flowers and go for the edibles

skip the flowers and go for the edibles

The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-less, Grow-more Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler

Ivette Soler asks the questions, “Why must the front yard be useless, boring, outdated lawn adorned by a few shade trees and perhaps some lackluster shrubbery?” She answers, “Wherever lawn can thrive ….so too can herbs, fruits, and vegetables.” She spends the rest of her book going into detail about just how beautiful and delicious your front yard can become. Every page is filled with colorful photographs to vividly illustrate each idea. The book covers curb-appeal so your yard won’t be the neighborhood eyesore. It covers color palettes, design and planning, and how-to sections covering irrigation, garden beds, checklists for budget, climate, and even building codes. She gives plant suggestions (listed alphabetically with growing and eating instructions) on how to replace standard shrubs and annuals with stunning, showy edibles placed everywhere from the foundation to walkways and flowerbeds.

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan with K. Ruby Blume

The authors build a substantial, comprehensive case for why everyone should participate somehow in community outreach, neighborhood building and giving back to the earth. The book is heavy with photos, how-to lists, and real world examples. It’s one thing to read a description of how to reuse discarded construction materials; it’s another thing entirely to see and husband and wife whose yard is now beautifully landscaped entirely from scavenged items and hear about what worked and what didn’t.  The topics in this book run the entire gamut of self-sufficiency from clothing and textiles to gardens and livestock to alternate energy sources and building your own home with found materials. Each section comes with a timetable of ready-made goals so you can check your progress over six month, a year and farther out to the ultimate goals of a zero waste/closed-loop existence. Visit their website here.

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