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.

Customize Your Smoothies – Immune Boosting Superfoods

 

mango smoothie with titles

Smoothies are easy to make, healthy to eat and a great way to use fresh, seasonal fruit.  They are a tasty vehicle for your daily dose of probiotics as well as healthy fats.  Use your own homemade yogurt, kefir or coconut milk and they become quite economical, too.  What a great package! Eating in season, boosting immunity and thrifty too!

To make one generous serving gather your ingredients and a blender. I’ll show you how to make a basic version. Once you get the hang of it you can alter the ingredients to suit the season and your tastebuds.  I like to use frozen fruit or a mixture of frozen and fresh to give the end result a milkshake texture.

smoothie1Put one cup of plain whole milk kefir (coconut milk kefir for dairy free) or plain whole milk yogurt (preferably raw) into your blender.  I’ve found my hand blender works for a single serving but if I’m doubling or making more I use the large blender.  Add one frozen banana and a cup of sliced frozen or fresh strawberries.  I keep blueberries in the freezer and like to add a few of those too.  This plus an optional squirt of raw honey is all you need for a basic smoothie.

But don’t stop here – take the nutritional profile up a few notches by adding in a few other extras.  Use a half-cup of full fat coconut milk and/or a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil in your smoothie to get some healthy medium-chain fatty acids.  Add a spoonful of flax seeds for an omega-3 boost and extra fiber. A tablespoon of raw cream gives a silky texture and more fat soluble vitamin A and D. A sliver of raw ginger adds a zippy flavor and helpful anti-inflammatory properties.  Substitute an avocado half for the banana to reduce the carbohydrate count.  Add a raw egg yolk from a pasture-raised fresh egg too boost nutrient-density with B vitamins, choline and vitamin D as well as protein for healthy nervous system and cell repair. A tablespoon of nut butter or coconut manna makes it thicker plus adds more healthy fats.  A tablespoon of plain gelatin powder adds extra protein plus collagen for healthy digestion, joints and skin.

Customize your smoothies with your favorite fruits and change them with the seasons. Melons and ginger are refreshing for summer, pumpkin puree and a dash of cinnamon and spice keep things lively in autumn, you can even add a handful of parsley or kale for some super-green nutrition any time. Experiment and find your own favorites. I love pitted fresh/frozen cherries and a scant tablespoon of raw cacao powder or vanilla extract for a chocolate cherry or cherry vanilla treat. Or get that island feel with mango, pineapple and fresh coconut.

Customize Your Smoothies - Immune Boosting Superfoods
Author: 
Recipe type: smoothie
Serves: 1 serving
 
smoothies are an easy, delicious way to pack a lot of nutrition into a portable meal
Ingredients
  • 1 cup plain full fat kefir, yogurt, or coconut milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen berries
  • 1 Tblsp raw honey (opt.)
  • Optional additions:
  • 1 Tblsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tblsp flax seed
  • 1 Tblsp plain gelatin
  • ½" slice fresh ginger
  • 1 egg yolk from a pasture-raised egg
  • 1 Tblsp nut butter or coconut manna
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
  2. Optionally - substitute a half an avocado for the banana to reduce carbs.
  3. Customize with your favorite fresh or frozen fruits such as chunks of melon, sliced mango, pineapple chunks, peach slices, pitted cherries, etc.

Share your favorite flavor combinations or your best superfood add-ins in the comment smoothie2section! We love trying new ideas!

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Milk Kefir

Milk Kefir titles

Milk Kefir

Milk kefir is one of the simplest of the cultured dairy products to make at home. A quart of storebought kefir costs about $4.40 but you can make your own for simply the cost of your own milk.

We have been drinking certified clean raw milk for about ten years. Raw milk makes really great kefir!  When you don’t have access to local clean raw milk you can boost store bought milk by using it to make kefir.  This culturing restores necessary enzymes helping to make your milk healthy and digestible again.

Want to find raw milk?

Contact your local chapter of the Weston A Price Foundation. Your chapter leader can guide you to finding local raw milk in your area.

What is so great about kefir?

Yogurt is the most well known cultured dairy product in the U.S., but there are dozens of different kinds of cultured dairy around the world. Kefir has at least 30 different probiotic strains; many times the number found in yogurt. Kefir is often well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance, especially when it is made with goat’s or sheep’s milk.

In addition to being a good source of vitamin K2, and helping restore beneficial gut flora, kefir has been shown to help with many other health issues. Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine has even published research showing how kefir reduces high blood pressure.

Making Kefir

Kefir is surprisingly simple to make. You just need a few spoonfuls of the kefir starter culture – known as kefir grains – and some milk.  There’s no heating involved! Just place the kefir grains into a clean jar, pour in the milk, and securely cover the jar with a cloth or paper towel. Let it sit at room temperature for anywhere from 12 hours to two days depending on how tart you like things. That’s it!

milk kefir grains

Milk Kefir

3 to 4 cups fresh, whole milk, preferably non-homogenized and raw

2 or more Tablespoons of milk kefir grains

1/2 cup organic or raw cream (optional, but delicious)

Place milk (and optional cream) in a clean quart-size mason jar.  Add kefir grains, stir gently and cover loosely with a clean cloth, paper towel or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. Place in a draft-free place for 12 hours or up to 2 days.

The length of time you leave your milk to culture depends on several things:

How tart do you like your kefir? The longer you culture the more tart it will taste.

How many kefir grains do you have? The more grains you have in relation to the amount of milk the faster it will culture.

Use a clean spoon to taste a bit of your kefir at the 12 hour mark and see if it is to your liking. If not, leave it to culture longer.

When your kefir is ready continue as follows.

Place a stainless steel strainer over a bowl. Pour the kefir and kefir grains mixture into the strainer. The kefir grains will stay in the strainer and your cultured milk kefir will go into the bowl.

Use the kefir grains to make a new batch of kefir by scooping them into a new, clean jar and adding fresh milk.

Pour the finished kefir that you just made from your bowl into a separate jar, put a lid on it, and store it in the refrigerator.

Taking a Culture Break

If you don’t need to keep making more kefir, you can just leave the grains in the cultured milk kefir, cover it tightly and place it in the refrigerator for a few days. When you are ready to make more then strain and proceed as directed above. If you want to store your grains for longer then a few days then place the grains into a jar of fresh milk, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When ready to use again pour off the storage milk and discard, then proceed as directed above.

What to do with kefir that is too tart? We have found that pets love kefir no matter how sour!

Share the goodness!

The more often you use the grains the more powerful they will be. Unused grains will eventually die off and no longer be effective. Each time you use them the grains will multiply somewhat. Eventually they will multiply to the point where you have enough to give away to someone else so they can enjoy the benefits of cultured milk kefir!

Troubleshooting

Let your nose be your guide. Smell your kefir and become familiar with what fresh kefir smells like so that you can know when something is wrong by a change in scent.  When culturing the milk it is common and normal for separation to occur. If your milk and grains clump and a clearish liquid appears this is no cause for worry – just stir everything back together!  The white liquid is simply the whey, which is a powerful, protein-rich liquid useful for all kinds of recipes.

Kefir grains can be obtained from a friend or online mail-order source. You can also purchase powdered kefir culture from health food stores, but they will not reproduce. You must buy new powder each time. Kefir is a powerful probiotic beverage. Drink it straight or use it in smoothies, salad dressings or other recipes.

Milk Kefir
Author: 
 
kefir is a powerful probiotic beverage
Ingredients
  • 3-4 cups fresh, whole milk, preferably non-homogenized or raw
  • 2 or more Tablespoons milk kefir grains
  • ½ cup organic or raw cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place milk (and optional cream) in a clean glass jar.
  2. Add the kefir grains and stir gently to mix.
  3. Cover the jar with a clean cloth or paper towel secured with a rubber band.
  4. Let the mixture sit at room temperature in a draft-free place for 12 hours or up to 2 days.
  5. Taste your kefir with a clean spoon at the end of 12 hours to see if it is satisfactorily tart.
  6. When your kefir is ready strain it through a wire mesh strainer reserving the kefir grains for the next use.
  7. Pour the newly made kefir into a jar, cover with a lid and store in the refrigerator.
  8. Use the reserved kefir grains to begin a new batch following the instructions above.

Do you make kefir or other cultured foods at home? Tell us about it in the comments! What is your favorite way to use kefir?

Beef Stock

Homemade stock (or broth, I often use the terms interchangeably) is the basis for so many delicious and nourishing recipes. Full of minerals, collagen and extremely digestible, stock is something worth taking the time to make and keep on hand.  The good news is that it is so easy, and definitely frugal. Once you’ve spent time and money finding real grassfed beef you want to use everything – which is of course exactly what our great-grandmothers did as part of their normal routine!

For a gallon or so of beef broth you will need:

3 lbs beef soup bones, marrow bones, oxtail, knuckle bones and/or calves’ feet preferably from locally raised grassfed beef

1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar

1-2 stalks of celery

1-2 carrots

1 onion

4 quarts of filtered water

oxtails for beef broth cropped (these are oxtails ready for roasting)

Place the beef bones on a shallow roasting pan or foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast them in a 400 degree oven for about an hour or until they are nice and toasty. Roasting the bones gives a depth of flavor to the finished broth that makes anything prepared with it so much more delicious.

Place the roasted bones in a large stainless steel stock pot. You can also do this in your slow cooker if you have one large enough to hold everything. Fill the pot with enough of the water to cover the bones and add the apple cider vinegar. Let this sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe. This soaking time with the added vinegar helps to break down the hard structure of the bone and allow the important minerals to leach out into the water making your homemade stock vastly superior to the store-bought stuff.

Wash the carrot, celery and onion and cut them into coarse chunks. You don’t have to peel anything as the skins will give a beautiful color to the finished stock. Add the vegetables to the pot, cover, and turn the heat to low.

Let this mixture cook for 12 to 24 hours occasionally checking the level of liquid and adding more filtered water as needed to keep the bones covered. The longer you can let this cook the richer the stock will be. If you have not used grassfed beef bones then you may have some foam or scum rise to the top. Simply skim this off as it rises and discard it. Pastured animals tend to have fewer impurities and consequently less foam when you make stock.

The real benefits come when you’ve leached all of the minerals possible from the bones and marrow. This gives your stock true healing properties that give sustenance to your body. Gelatin-rich broth contains calcium, magnesium and potassium and also promotes healthy digestion as well as healing the digestive tract itself.

When you are finished cooking, let the stock cool until you are able to handle it safely. Pour it through a strainer into a large bowl and discard all of the solids. You can slide out any marrow left inside the bones and mash it up into the stock for even more nutrition. I use an immersion blender to fully incorporate any extra marrow back into the stock.

Put the cooled stock into freezer-safe containers. I like to freeze a variety of sizes from ice cube size to quart size. This insures I have the right amount for any recipe I make. Chill the stock first to let the fat rise to the top and solidify. If you are going to freeze the stock right away then skim off the fat and save it in a separate container. (This is beef tallow! Don’t throw it out!) If you are going to refrigerate the broth to use in a few days then leave the fat on top. This layer of fat acts as a natural preservative to your broth keeping it fresher longer in the refrigerator. Be sure to use it within a few days or else freeze it for longer storage.

You can use the beef fat (tallow) as a healthy cooking fat. It makes great pan-fried potatoes and stands up well to the high heat of stir frying.

beef broth beef stew with ladle

Freeze your broth for later                                           or make beef stew tonight!