Category Archives: Basic Recipes

You will turn to these recipes often. They provide the backbone of a well-stocked kitchen or the basis of a nourishing meal.

DIY Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing and Why Fat is Important 21 Days from SAD to Well Fed

 

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21 Days from SAD to Well Fed Day #2

Fat isn’t to be feared – it’s your friend!

There are so many tasty ways to include healthy fats in your day. Store bought and many restaurant salad dressings are NOT one of them. In fact most commercial dressings are full of rancid soybean oil and canola oil. Definitely not healthy. Making salad dressing yourself is quick and easy. Read these fun facts about healthy fats, and then keep scrolling for a delicious Caesar-style salad dressing you can make tonight! And keep scrolling for links to more recipes!

Get the skinny on why we start with fats first in this Day #1 article.

Here are 4 different ways fat plays a positive part in your health:

  • Cells need fat – since our body temperature remains relatively constant, being warm-blooded creatures, our cell membranes need a balance of different fats to find that “Goldilocks” spot where they are fluid, yet structurally stable.  To do this about 50% of the fatty acids in our cell membranes need to be saturated fats, and the rest monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. (Confused as to which fats are which? See Day One of SAD to Well Fed.)
  • Fat gives energy – the best energy source is one that lasts all day long without crashing you in a mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump.  Saturated fats, especially those from animal milks, animal meat, coconuts and palm oils, are the best source for this long lasting energy.
  • Strong bones – the most important nutrients in bone health are found primarily in foods that also contain saturated fats.  Vitamins A, D and K2 are the bone health trifecta keeping the calcium OUT of the soft tissue and INTO the bones and teeth. Best sources include organ meats, egg yolks, animal fats like grassfed butter, and also fermented foods and cod liver oil.
  • Hormones and mood – fats are a favorite with Dr. Julia Ross and her books on overcoming mood disorders, food cravings and weight issues. Healthy fats help neurotransmitters and the endocrine system.

This salad dressing recipe includes good fats from healthy mayonnaise (avocado oil, egg yolks), virgin olive oil, and cheese!

Caesar Style Creamy Salad Dressing

1/4 cup good quality mayonnaise without canola or soy oil (try this one or make your own)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice and zest of one lemon

one clove of garlic, pressed

1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until creamy. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

 

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
Author: 
Recipe type: salad dressing
 
lots of healthy fats in an easy to make creamy caesar salad dressing
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup good quality (no soy or canola) mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • one clove of garlic, pressed
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl until creamy.
  2. Store any leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

 

For more easy salad dressing recipes check out these on Well Fed Family:

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing

Tzatziki Sauce

What is your favorite salad dressing?

 

Turkey Broth Instructions and Free Recipe to Share

turkey broth titlesThe big feast is over, the turkey is eaten, but there is still one more thing to do….Make Broth!! Here is a free printable and shareable set of instructions plus an easy recipe for Turkey and Rice soup.

turkey broth and recipe card

What will you make with your broth? Who will you share this recipe with? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Compound Butter {Butter Gets Dressed Up}

 This blog is part of my contributions at Traditional Cooking School

Compound-Butter-Traditional-Cooking-School-GNOWFGLINSAs a young married couple without kids, we moved to a new city eight hours from home. There, we met Mr. and Mrs. Samuels at church.

We loved getting invitations to eat dinner at their house. Sam, retired from the Navy, had filled their home with beautiful things from around the world. Helen was a pearls-go-with-everything, warm and friendly lady who knew how to make her guests feel welcome.

But what I remember most about the first evening we spent with them was the butter. Read more…

How To Make Good Soup

stone soupDo you remember the children’s story about stone soup? Strangers stopping in a small village are given the cold shoulder until, one by one, each villager is persuaded to add an ingredient to the pot while the strangers contribute a stone to the boiling water. The original legend says this soup was the first minestrone and that one of the strangers was actually Godfrey of Bouillon, a medieval knight.  Truth or legend doesn’t matter, the moral of the story is true: in times of scarcity and poverty we are still able to provide nourishment and delicious food to our own families and have enough to share in hospitality with others in need. Soup provides a way to do all of that and more.

“Whenever possible give your soups the full flavor of homemade stock.” – Julia Child

Homemade stocks, also called bone broths, have been around for as long as there have been cooking pots, and make the base for the very best soups.  There is a simple beauty in these stocks as they give us deep nourishment as well as allowing us to use even the hard, normally inedible parts of the animal showing common sense, frugality and a respect for the life of the animal that was given for your sustenance.  The bones of any and every creature were used for stock which then became soup, sauce, gravy or even beverage.  Find a recipe for a basic bone broth here, or watch our video tutorial on roasting a chicken and making broth here. You can also save the pan juices from your roasting pan when you roast a chicken, leg of lamb, pot roast or turkey. These pan drippings have enormous flavor concentrated into a small volume and can be added to soups to intensify flavor or to stand in when you don’t have enough stock.

“There is no such thing as a good chicken bouillon, and you should stoop to using canned chicken broth only during times of dire emergency.” – Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet

To make your soup start with a big, heavy bottom pot at least 2 quarts or larger. The first stage begins with the “aromatics”. These are strong-flavored ingredients frequently sauteed together in butter, lard, duck fat or coconut oil to lend a complexity to the flavor of the finished soup. Aromatics can include onion, carrot, celery, shallots, garlic, leek, sweet or hot peppers, bacon, pancetta or salt pork. Asian soups often use toasted spices such as turmeric, cumin, fenugreek or cardamom as part of the aromatics. You can also use herbs bundled together and simmered in the soup and removed just before serving – bay leaf, parsley stems, thyme sprigs for example. Saute the aromatic vegetables about five minutes taking care not to burn, then advance to the next step.

adding potatoesNow it’s time to add the sturdier vegetables such as cubes of potato, turnip, broccoli, cabbage, winter squash or other root vegetable, or cooked beans. Toss them with the aromatics to coat them with the hot fat and then add in the homemade stock or bone broth. Simmer the vegetables 10-15 minutes and then add any additional softer vegetables such as zucchini, kale or some chopped cook meat such as leftover roast chicken or beef, or tiny meatballs. Add a little salt and pepper at this time as well. Continue to simmer 10 or 15 more minutes until the vegetables are done to your liking. Taste again for salt and add more if needed.

Now it’s time for the enrichments.  In some Mediterranean areas one egg or egg yolk per person is added, either beaten in to thicken the soup or poached in some broth and added to the pot. Or you can add freshly grated cheese, sour cream, creme fraiche, coconut milk or heavy cream.  Turn off the heat under the pot before you add in any of the cultured dairy ingredients or they may curdle and you will lose the probiotic aspect. 

Ladle the soup into serving bowls and add a flavorful garnish.  Garnishes can include a dollop of pesto or spicy tomato paste, a spoonful of capers or sliced olives, lemon zest and finely chopped parsley, chopped fresh chervil or chives, a bit of butter or swirl of extra virgin olive oil, some buttered croutons, or a drizzle of fish sauce. You can also add a spoonful of lacto-fermented salsa, sauerkraut or fruit chutney for added flavor and a probiotic boost.

 

Delicious soup isn’t hard or expensive to make. When you know the basic technique you can have gourmet soup just by cleaning out the refrigerator or freezer. With a bit of planning your soup can be a memorable meal.

soup-and-muffinsoup-and-muffinbeef stew with ladle

 

Crack a Few Eggs for a Classic Omelet

omelet4Sunny side up or over easy, scrambled, hard boiled or poached; deviled eggs, omelets, huevos rancheros, frittatas, quiches, tarts, and souffle´s…eggs are versatile, delicious and so very healthy. They deserve a starring role in any diet but can be especially helpful in the quest for weight loss as they provide balanced nutrition and also help to satisfy our hunger.

 

    Eggs from hens living outdoors on pasture are one of the most nutritious, complete and also economical forms of protein available worldwide. Eggs are the gold standard for protein and are frequently used as the reference point for judging the quality of protein in other foods. Buy the best eggs you can find. Even the high-priced eggs are still a bargain when you consider that one egg supplies so much complete nutrition in such a small package. The more consumers ask for truly pastured eggs the more available and less expensive they will become.

 

   Cherry Creek Layers small The normal, natural diet of a chicken is outdoors on pasture, foraging for insects and tasty greens. Hens living in rotation with pastured cows have the best diet of all as they pick through the bug-filled fermented grassy remains left behind by the grazing cattle. That may not sound like a pleasant diet to you but to a hen it is beyond gourmet!

 

    Eggs provide a wide spectrum of important vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B5, D, K, sulphur, choline, chromium, and iron as well as the vital fatty acids EPA and DHA. Eggs have plentiful supplies of all the essential amino acids making them a complete protein. They are especially good sources of the amino acids needed for brain and nervous system health.

 

    Eggs from hens who have the opportunity to eat insects and green plants can contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the beneficial ration of about 1:1 but commercial supermarket eggs from battery-raised hens (hens living in stacked wire cages inside an industrial henhouse), and even the so-called cage free hens that are raised entirely on grains will lay eggs containing an unhealthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 as high as 19:1.

     Start your day with a fabulous omelet, or enjoy one as a quick and easy dinner.  The classic recipe for an omelet was made famous in America by Julia Child.  She said “One of the best reasons for making an omelet is that it is really fun. Don’t worry about having an impeccably symmetrical omelet roll onto your plate. Omelets are, perhaps, the most exciting and satisfying few second of cooking that you will find.”

The Classic Omelet omelet2

2 or 3 large eggs

 

a pinch of sea salt

 

2 or 3 grinds of pepper

 

1 Tblsp butter

 

a handful of shredded cheese or other filling (optional)

 

Lacto-fermented salsa for garnish (optional)

 

sour cream for garnish (optional)

    Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the salt and pepper, and beat with a fork to blend the yolks and whites. Set a 10″ frying pan over medium high heat and add the butter. As the butter melts and begins to foam, swirl the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Wait until the foaming begins to subside, then pour in the beaten eggs all at once.

 

    Let the eggs settle for about 5 seconds, then start shaking and swirling the pan as the eggs begin to set. Continue to cook for about 10 seconds occasionally loosening the egg from the sides of the pan and swirling the uncooked egg around until everything starts to thicken. Now is the time to quickly spread the filling across the center of the eggs.

 

    Move the pan to the waiting plate, tilt the pan slightly sideways and slip a spatula or fork under omelet3one side allowing gravity to help you fold one side over onto the other and then slide the whole omelet onto the waiting plate. You can use your fingers to neaten up the omelet if you wish but it is not necessary. Garnish if desired and serve immediately.

 

    You can find the recipe for the lacto-fermented salsa in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. Other garnishes could include fresh herbs, more cheese, or smoked salmon.

 

Delicious Homemade Fermented Salsa

salsa packet mixEver since my first cell phone with a camera I’ve been dangerous in the grocery store! I keep snapping photos of stuff I can’t believe exists in the food chain. Here we have a packet of “Hot Salsa Mix”. When I saw it strategically placed next to the produce display of fresh tomatoes I just about popped a contact lens rolling my eyes in disbelief.  Earlier this week I did a nutrition class for a local Brownie Scout troop. These bright 6, 7 and 8 year old children caught on very quickly that real food doesn’t have strange chemical names you can’t pronounce, and real food is grown outside not in a giant processing plant.  After we talked I had the girls (with some mommy helpers to use the sharp knives) chop up some fresh vegetables, squeeze a lemon and mix up some awesome salsa. It probably took a little longer than it should have since it was salsa-by-committee but still I don’t think it took more than a few minutes. Those girls eagerly dug in to the tantalizingly fragrant bowl of colorful veggies. They all said they were going home and making this again!

That is why this packet from the produce aisle caused me such grief. Here we have maltodextrin, tomato powder, sugar, modified corn starch, “spice”, natural flavors, powdered lime juice, artificial flavor and citric acid conveniently packaged up (and several of these ingredients are absolutely GMO too!) so we can have an “authentic blend of peppers, garlic and Mexican seasonings with ripe tomatoes and diced onion to create a fresh and spicy salsa.”  The trouble is I just don’t see any cilantro, oregano, garlic, or jalapeno peppers, which are the real “authentic Mexican seasonings”,  anywhere on the ingredient list. Spice, natural flavors and artificial flavors could be anything, anything at all. (Remember Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution ice cream sundaes with all-natural beaver gland flavor toppings!)

Since we have to chop up tomatoes and onions anyhow, let’s go ahead and go the whole nine yards and chop up the rest of the ingredients and make ourselves some honest-to-goodness real salsa.  This salsa has something else the packet mix doesn’t have – this one has beneficial probiotics!  If you have been wanting to take the first step into fermented vegetables this is the one to start with.  It’s easy to do and the results are something delicious and familiar, because everyone has had salsa before!

salsabefore

Homemade Fermented Salsa

4 ripe tomatoes        1 bunch cilantro or parsley

1 or 2 peppers (spicy or mild or both)

1 large onion             4-6 cloves of garlic        

1 Tblsp sea salt         4 Tblsp of whey*

  2 lemons        1-2 stems of fresh oregano

Have a large cutting board, sharp knife, large bowl and a quart-sized mason jar ready.  I like to peel my tomatoes but you can skip this step if you don’t mind the skins.  I peel tomatoes quickly by making an X cut on the bottom of the tomato and slipping it into a small pan of boiling water for about 30 seconds. The skins slip right off when you take them out of the water. You will need to scoop the seeds out which is also easy, just hold the cut half of a tomato in your hand and squeeze gently, then use your fingers to swipe out the seeds in one clump.

Use your sharp knife to dice the tomatoes, onions and peppers. Place them in the large bowl.salsa Mince or press the garlic and add it to the bowl. Chop up the cilantro or parsley, and strip the leaves off the oregano and chop them up too. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl over the veggies and herbs. Now sprinkle the sea salt over everything and mix well. Add the whey and mix thoroughly. 

Scoop everything into the mason jar and use a long-handled spoon to make sure everything is solidly packed into the jar. Bump the jar on the counter to settle everyting. Fill it to about an inch below the rim of the jar. If there isn’t enough of the juices to cover the top of the vegetables add in a little filtered water to cover. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean towel and cover tightly with the jar lid.

Now comes the fun part.  Set the jar of salsa in an out-of-the-way spot on your counter or in a cupboard where it won’t be disturbed. Let it stay there for two days.  At the end of the two days check to see how you’ve done. Hold the jar in a towel or over the sink and open the lid. It is perfectly fine to see fizzing or bubbles, the lid may even make a “pop” like opening a soda bottle. Next you give the salsa a good sniff. It should smell delicious and garlicky and tomato-y. If it smells good then you have done it! Congratulations! 

Place your fermented salsa in the refrigerator and let it chill. Then invite some friends over for a little party, serve your homemade salsa and celebrate! salsaafter

             *whey is the key to successful fermentation here. Whey is the clear liquid that drains out when you place cultured yogurt or kefir in a cheesecloth or coffee filter to drain. When the whey has drained into the bowl, save it in a jar in the refrigerator and use it to make delicious fermented vegetables. Use the thickened yogurt or kefir in recipes calling for cream cheese.                                                                                          

 

Better Beans

lentilsdriedbeansThe Well Fed Family’s Breads DVD has a wealth of information about phytic acid in grains, but did you know that beans also contain phytic acid? Phytic acid is the component of beans, grains, nuts and seeds that helps store the energy needed for the new seedling until the time comes for it to be used for plant growth. That’s good for the plant but bad for our nutrition. The phytic acid grabs on to some important nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc making them unavailable for our bodies and taking them on out through the digestive tract and beyond.

In addition to phytic acid beans, grains, seeds and nuts contain enzyme inhibitors that keep the seeds from sprouting until the conditions are right for a plant to grow. These enzyme inhibitors are irritating to our digestive tract and are often what causes digestive problems to many people when they eat grains, nuts or beans.  All of these protective measures make sense from the plant’s point of view, but when we want to use the seed or bean for our own food it is paramount that we be able to digest it and to absorb the nutrition from it.

Thankfully it is fairly simple to reduce the effects of phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors when we prepare beans.  Starting with dried beans, wash them in a colander under plenty of running water discarding any pebbles or rotten beans, and place them in a bowl at least twice as large as the a mount of beans you are preparing.  Cover the beans with warm water. For every pound of beans add at least 2 Tblsp of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or fresh whey.  Stir the beans and leave them in a warm place for at least 7 hours, preferably longer. The phytic acid begins to be neutralized after 7 hours but the digestibility of the beans gets better the longer you soak – 12 hours or longer is best. soakedgarbanzo

After the soaking period drain the beans and rinse well again.  Place them in a large pot and add fresh water to cover the beans.  Bring them to a boil and use a spoon to skim off any foam that rises to the top. Once you have skimmed the beans reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Let them simmer for 2 – 4 hours until tender. Check the water level occasionally and add water as needed to keep the beans from drying out.  You can also cook them in a slow cooker on low. The time needed to cook will depend on the size and age of the bean. Large beans that have been stored for a long time will take the longest to soften.  Try to purchase beans and use them within a year. Old beans are tough beans.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

“Maltodextrin, buttermilk, sald, monosodium glutamate, dried garlic, dried onion, lactic acid, calcium lactate, citric acid, spice, artificial flavor, xanthan gum, calcium stearate, carboxymethylcellulose, guar gum”     MMMM! Delicious! What???!!!   hidden valley ranch packets

Let’s take a look at the scary things in this ingredient list. Maltodextrin is a starch, a carbohydrate, that mostly just gives bulk to powdered things – a filler if you will. Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, is an excitotoxin that has been proven to cause brain lesions and a long, long list of other horrible side-effects that are hazardous to your health. Citric acid is NOT, as the name implies, derived from citrus fruit. Citric acid is derived from Genetically Modified corn and is used to give foods a tart or sour flavor. Spice is a completely unregulated and undefined term the FDA allows food processing companies to use when they don’t want you to know the proprietary ingredients they are using. Basically it’s a loophole to protect the $ of the company and NOT to protect the consumer. Frequently “spice” means MORE MSG! Artificial flavor – again this could be anything.  Some artificial flavors are more toxic than others but since they don’t tell you we just don’t know.  Xanthan gum is a thickener made from bacteria that in and of itself is ok, but you don’t know what the growing medium for the bacteria was. Most likely it was GMO corn again. Calcium stearate keeps things from clumping, to waterproof fabrics, to make concrete pavers, to make glossy printer paper and as a lubricant in crayons. Hmmmm, is it food? Carboxymethylcellulose helps your laundry detergent clean tough soil stains better, they also put it in ice cream to make it seem thicker when they haven’t used any real cream or eggs. Again, is it food?

Thank goodness you can make Ranch Dressing at home!  Like so many, many of our modern foods this salad dressing was once both frugal and healthy.  Made from the buttermilk leftover from churning raw cream into butter it was high enzyme and had probiotic properties. The addition of a little sour cream boosted the probiotic factor and also added healthy fat that aided the digestion of the fresh salad greens and garden vegetables with which it was eaten. Try this recipe with your own homemade kefir in place of the buttermilk for even more probiotic goodness.

Ranch Dressing    minced garlic

1/2 cup cultured buttermilk or kefir

2 Tblsp quality, full-fat sour cream

2 Tblsp homemade mayonnaise or a good store-bought safflower mayonnaise

1 to 3 tsp chopped shallots or green onions

1 tsp chopped chives

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 tsp chopped thyme

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp sucanat or raw honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 small clove of minced fresh garlic OR you can use 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill for one hour to let the flavors blend. Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar for up to one week.

thyme

Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

saladgreensStore bought salad dressings are a nutritional nightmare! Once you read the label on the back of one of those bottles you will hopefully think twice about eating it again!  Thankfully salad dressings are so easy to make, and honestly it is cheaper to make your own than it is to buy it.  Invest in the basic ingredients and you will always have fresh, delicious, healthy salad dressing ready in just a few minutes.

I will start by giving you the basic template for a standard vinaigrette dressing. At the end I will give you some variations you can use to personalize your dressing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new and exciting combinations of herbs, spices, and other flavors.  You can buy one of the pretty glass cruets made just for salad dressings or simply keep yours in a half-pint mason jar.

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing

1/2 to 3 tsp Dijon mustard*

2-3 Tblsp vinegar* (use apple cider, red wine, white wine, balsamic or other delicious vinegar but NOT distilled white vinegar!)

1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil*

1/2 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Place the mustard in a bowl. Whisk in the vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to whisk until the oil is incorporated. Stire in the salt and pepper. The mustard acts as a sort of emulsifier to help the vinegar and oil stay together, but it isn’t a heavy-duty chemical emulsifier like some commercial dressings have so your salad dressing will eventually separate. Just shake the jar to mix it back up. 

*Why the range of measurements? It all depends on your taste preference. Start with the smaller amounts and then experiment with using more or less of each ingredient until you get the combination that tastes best to you.

Optional add-ins:

Choose any one or more of the following items. Remember, this is just to get you started. If you try something yummy at a retaurant ask them what is in their dressing and go try it at home for example.  Add your mix-ins when you mix together the mustard and vinegar but before the olive oil.

1/2 clove crushed garlic; a couple of teaspoons of raw honey; a teaspoon or two of minced fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, chives, oregano, lemongrass, cilantro, basil; a couple teaspoons of homemade blueberry jam; a couple spoonfuls of leftover cranberry sauce; a minced chipotle chili

chives and thyme

 

Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing

Here in Central Florida in January it isn’t hard to find fresh citrus.  Someone left a bag of big Meyer lemons in the back hallway at church so I snagged as many as I could juggle in one hand and headed out to the car.  When I got home I pulled out my low-tech citrus juicer, sliced one of the lemons open enjoying the burst of bright lemon scent, and made salad dressing. meyer lemons 

Sometimes the simple way is the best way. Here is an example of just that. This dressing has only five ingredients, takes only a few minutes to prepare, and yet has all the flavor you could ever want. It is perfect over plain green salads but also works well on steamed or grilled vegetables, sauteed fish or chicken, or tiny new potatoes.

Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing

1 small clove of garlic

1 tsp sea salt

3 Tblsp fresh lemon juice

6-7 Tblsp high-quality extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper                          

salad_dressing

Take a knife and lay it with the flat side onto the garlic clove.  Give the flat of the blade a determined smack and crush the garlic. Remove the outer peel, then give the smashed garlic a couple of rough chops and put it in a clean, dry bowl.  Add the sea salt and use the back of a spoon to mash the salt and garlic together into a paste.  Pour in the fresh lemon juice and use a fork to stir up the garlic salt paste into the lemon juice. Add the olive oil while stirring with the fork. This is the place to use that extra special bottle of olive oil you splurged on at the gourmet shop. Mix the oil in well. Add the freshly ground pepper and serve.

This makes enough dressing for a very large bowl of fresh salad greens, or you can keep it in a glass jar in the refrigerator for three or four days to use on smaller salads throughout the week.