Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Chicken Broth Process {Method}

Well, it's been weeks since I said I was going to post about this, but here is my method for making chicken broth - both meat broth and bone broth.  This is something that helps with many meals, as it provides a lot of broth saved up to use for many soups, stews, and other things.  It also provides much meat to use in soups or even on its own in chicken salad or with a sauce on top.  It is also not very time consuming - it can seem like it at first because it is such a long process.  But the hands-on time is actually fairly little compared to how much nourishing food you get from it!  This process is one way we make eating GAPS and very nourishing very do-able for us.

I can't tell you how much to do at a time or how often to do this, because that will depend on how often you use broth and meat in your eating lifestyle.  We probably do this every 2 weeks, on average.  If you are in early stages of GAPS, you will do this fairly often.  However, doing as large of a batch as possible at once is so helpful!  Also, we have considered getting another giant (or giant-er!) stock pot and just doing 2 pots at the same time!  So, here's my method...

Chicken Broth - Meat Broth and Bone Broth Process

Part 1 - Meat and Meat Broth! 
1.  Place (usually still frozen because I forget to take them out the day before...) whole chickens, hindquarters, and any other pieces I may have in large stock pot.  I often add heads/necks and feet.  Never thought I'd be one of those people, but here I am...I also add any vegetable scraps/pieces I want to use - carrot, onion, and celery ends and pieces leftover from other meals and juicing.  Often, I do not even have vegetables in there - and the broths still turn out wonderful.

2.  Cover with filtered water.  I bring it to a boil (usually slowly, over low-medium heat (3-4 on my 8 scale burner)) and then reduce heat and simmer.  Simmer 3-4 hours, gently - try not to let it get to the heavy fast boiling stage!  I find it is best to cook the meat gently.

3.  After the chicken has simmered a few hours and it is all falling apart (use tongs to grab a piece and see if it falls apart from the rest of the chicken), remove all chicken from the pot onto a large platter or plate or into a large dish or bowl.  Once it is cool enough to handle, take all the meat off the bones ( I find it much easier to use my hands rather than try and separate it with tongs and a fork/knife when it's too hot to handle).  I keep 2 dishes with me - one to hold all my meat, and one to hold everything else - skin, bones, cartilage, all that fun stuff.  (Meat at top, everything else at bottom)

**GAPS Note: In this stage, you could also keep all soft parts (skin, cartilage) separate as well to blend up for your 'pate' to add to soups or sauces! 
Make sure you save all that bone/skin stuff for the next part - making your bone broth!!  Use the meat for soups and any other meals!  I often use it for a couple of pots of soup that week and freeze the remainder in 1 or 2 cup portions for more meals the next week.  If you are in early stages of GAPS, you will probably just use all of it in 1 week, depending on how many people are in your home and how many are doing GAPS.  

4.  Then, simply put your remaining meat broth into jars for your soups!  (Sorry I don't have a picture of this.)  Simply strain it if needed and put in jars or bowls or glass containers, or put it directly into a pot to make some soup!  (I use pretty much the same process as straining for my bone broth below in #8, but it's not as much work because you have removed all meat/bones/skin from the pot.)

Isn't it beautiful?!  It is so nice to get so much broth (that's more than 1.5 gallons there) from 1 pot of effort :-).  So...there's your meat broth!!

Part 2 - Bone Broth!(You could start this process right away after finishing the meat broth.  I usually start it the next day or freeze all the carcasses and do the bone broth the next week when I am in need of it.)

5.  Put all your carcasses that you have from your meat broth process, along with any carcass you have saved from roasted chickens and the like, into your stock pot again, cover with cold filtered water, add a splash (with my giant pot, I usually add about 1/4 cup - with a crock pot or smaller pot, and therefore less carcass, I use about 2 Tbsp) of raw apple cider vinegar.  Let this sit for 1 hour to draw the minerals out of the bones.

6.  Add any vegetables/scraps you would like (again, I often do this without any veggies...when I do, I just use frozen scraps of carrots, onion, and celery) and then bring it to a boil.   

7.  Let this simmer (low simmer!  No huge boiling!) for 12-24 hours.  I know this seems like a long time.  I cook it for 2 days.

I have done both of the following:
-at the end of the first day, let it cool for a couple of hours and then stick the giant pot in my fridge and put my fridge on power cool, remove it the next morning and simmer it all day OR
-leave it simmering until I am about to go to bed, remove from stove onto a trivet or thick towel, wrap in a giant towel, and leave it there overnight - set it back on the stove to simmer first thing when I get up in the morning.  Never have had a problem either way.  :-)  It really stays very very warm wrapped up overnight on the counter.

**Tip!: While it is cooking, go ahead and make a couple of soups!!  Just remove broth you need and add water to fill the pot back up!  It stretches your broth further, and allows you to easily make a couple of meals! 

8.  Fun part - processing the broth.  Here I share the BEST way I have found to do this part!  This is what works for me! 

Get your pot, the most giant bowl you have, a large strainer, a measuring cup (I use either my 2 cup or 4 cup), and your jars or containers you are going to store your broth in.  I do freeze broth in ziploc bags, but I always wait until it is chilled in the fridge - I would never put hot or even warm broth into plastic because of leaching chemicals. 

This part takes some muscle :-).  Take your giant pot and pour your broth into the large bowl through the strainer.  Be careful of all the carcass just falling out and splashing and spilling everywhere!  You have to pour fast enough to not dribble broth everywhere but not so fast that you splash broth and stuff everywhere :-).  Ask me how I know...
Take your strainer out of your big bowl. 
and pour. (like you really needed pictures of every little step...but oh well, it's fun to try and take pictures and pour broth at the same time!)
 Look how nicely the measuring cup just sits in the bowl with the handle hooked over the edge!  So convenient, those handles!  :-)
Do this until all your broth is all jarred up!!  Note: when it gets to where there are lots of bones/etc in the pot and only a little broth, you might want to scoop all that out before trying to drain the rest of the broth out or all that stuff may just fall out of the pot and make a big ol' mess.  :-o 
9.  Here's an optional step: (GAPS Step!) take the large leg and thigh bones and break them open or cut them lengthwise with a knife.  Scoop/scrape out the marrow - either eat it plain, on something, or put it into your broth!  Marrow is incredibly nutritious and healing!  Because your bones have cooked so long, cutting them will be easy peasy!
 Close up...look at that...
10.  Well, this isn't really a step, but I like having nice round numbers and 10 sounds good, doesn't it?!  There's all your bone broth, all ready to store and use!  Beautiful, isn't it?!  Note: I don't salt my broth until I use it.  And I always use Celtic or Himalayan Salt to taste.  Amazing.  Mmmm....I want some soup...

And there you have it!  My method and process for making huge batches of both meat and bone broth.  It is wonderful and beneficial to have both types of broth in your diet, whether you are on a healing diet like GAPS or just want to eat in a nourishing way.

Also, it's wonderful to have broth on hand for anyone who gets sick in any way - cold, flu, stomach bugs...all helped immensely by broth!

AND it's a FANTASTIC early or first food for babies.  They love it! 

This is a great way to take a step forward in eating more nourishing, healing, and health promoting foods.  Make lots of broth and use it!  Making beef broth is very similar, and I will share that someday as well!

This post is part of Real Food Wendesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kombucha Update

Update: Here's my most recent kombucha update.

Remember how I grew my own kombucha SCOBY?!  And then I attempted my first batch of the yummy tart fizzy amazing stuff?  Well, here's what happened...

I let my kombucha sit for 8 days and then a little.  I was going to only do 5 before bottling it, but I decided to let it sit for longer for a few reasons...
  • I am going to do plain kombucha this time, so no secondary fermenting in the bottles.  I don't really know if I'm doing the right thing, but hey, I'm just gonna go for it.  
  • Our house has been a little cooler (or less warm is probably more accurate for where we are) so I wanted to let it sit a little longer. 
  • It started to develop some funky looking stuff on top, which I was hoping was a new SCOBY.  I decided to let it sit a couple more days so that I would know for sure.  I have been looking around at pictures online here and here, and I'm pretty confident it's a new SCOBY forming and not mold of any kind. 
So here we go with my update...with pictures to help any of you interested in bringing this beneficial drink into your life.  Here's my SCOBY that grew like I talked about here.  Isn't it AMAZING that this thing grew with a little tea, 1 tbsp of sugar, and a bottle of GT's plain raw kombucha? 
 It's just asking to be given some sugar to eat up!

So after 8ish days of sitting, here's what I had!
 Isn't that gross/amazing?!  The original SCOBY sank, which is totally fine.  After a few (3-5? I can't remember) days, stuff started forming on top.  I should have taken pictures, but I didn't.  Sorry.  At first things looked kind of moldy, but from what I've read, mold is blue/green/black/dark.  Mine was white/cream colored.  Then it kept spreading.  If you can see in the picture above, there are bubbles/foamy stuff around the edge.  That's just the fermentation creating bubbles that aren't escaping because there's an awesome SCOBY growing on top.

A couple notes about new SCOBYs growing...
  1. It might look dry and fuzzy kind of like mold.  Mine had areas that looked dry and dusty, but this is just because there were air bubbles trapped underneath, so the SCOBY wasn't in contact with the liquid.  Therefore, it looked dry.  It looks very different when you remove it.  
  2. If you develop stuff on the top of your batch and you are thinking it might be mold, leave it alone and let it sit for a few more days.  This will easily allow it to grow so you can see if it is a SCOBY.  If you know for sure it is mold, throw it out - this is supposed to be pretty rare, so don't be scared!  If it is white/cream colored, LEAVE IT!  Let it have it's breathing space to do its job. :-)
So here we are, back on day 8ish.  I knew I needed to take care of it.  I was seriously scared.  I am such a wimp.  It's like the first time I tried our own homemade sauerkraut.  So easy, so simple, but I was scared.  DON'T BE SCARED!!!   This stuff is so fun and so good for us.

So after your batch of kombucha has done it's thang for it's time (I have read that 7-9 or 6-8 days is ideal, if your temperature is in the mid to upper 70's), it's time to test it.  Our kitchen varies on temperature - but I am pretty sure it is always above 70, even on cold nights.  If not, the fact that I use my stove, dehydrator, and oven like ALL the TIME, should help make up for it!

So, take a straw, move your SCOBY aside a little, get some in the straw by sticking the straw in the tea and then sealing the straw with your finger on the top.
Put that tea in your mouth or in a glass.  I did about 3-4 straw dips into a glass to taste it.  I smelled it first (and had hubby smell it) because I was chicken.  But then I tasted it and holy moly, it tasted like kombucha!!  I might or might not have started this crazy giddy laugh because of how excited and proud I was.  There is great freedom in learning to do this stuff!  MWAHAHA!  okay, anyway....

So I cleaned my hands really well and went to take out the SCOBY.  I have no clue what the best way is to do this.  So someone let me know if there is a great way to do it without sticking my fingers all over it.  Oh well.  I wanted to provide some pictures of it so you can know what it looks like.  
 The above picture is the top (doesn't look anything like mold and is surprisingly strong and doesn't just tear apart.  Weird.).  The below picture is the underneath.  The brown stuff is yeast (SCOBY = symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).  Don't be scared.  It is totally fine to be there.  There will be brown stuff all in your kombucha and a lot under a more mature SCOBY.  You will take care of this soon. 
 Now it's time to filter and bottle the good stuff.  Oh wow, you wouldn't believe how easy peasy this is.  Sterilize some cheesecloth (I used unbleached) with a steaming iron.  Line a strainer with the cheesecloth.  (I suggest using a medium-large strainer, not a tiny one like I used here (if you can tell).  My large one was dirty from broth straining.  This one worked, but larger would work better.

Pour through the cheesecloth lined strainer into something glass.  You could put it directly into quart mason jars.  I poured mine into a large 2 quart glass mixing bowl (with pouring spout!).  If I didn't have this, I would pour into my 4 cup glass measuring cup. 
 The cheesecloth captures all the brown yeasty stuff.  I would show you a picture, but it kinda looks really gross. 

Beautiful filtered fresh kombucha tea!  I saved my millions of GT bottles to put mine in. 
 Fill your bottles and repeat as needed!  BUT WAIT!!!  SAVE 1-2 CUPS FOR EACH SCOBY.  You need this to store your SCOBY in and for your next batch!

Look at the fizzy bubbles in the bottle!  I kept telling my husband 'it's like the real stuff I buy!'. 
 Look how beautiful.  Sorry, GT's, I love your kombucha, but I can't afford to buy as much as I would love to drink.  Thanks for the months of goodness and all the glass bottles I kept.  I'll buy one of you every now and then, I promise.  Well, we'll see. 
 A bottle of unopened GT's kombucha (left) next to mine (right).  I think I made my tea darker. 
 Isn't it all so happy in my fridge?!  My fridge is happy when it's full of this stuff.  Ah, I am crazy, aren't I?
 So here is what I was left with...

The original SCOBY (big and thick) with some of the tea I saved from the batch. 
 My new SCOBY with some saved tea from the batch, just waiting for me to give it a new batch to eat and grow!  This SCOBY is young and thin, but I can't wait to see what happens over the next week! 
I just covered these with clean white 100% cotton towels overnight.  The next morning, I made a new 1 gallon batch of sweet tea, let it cool, and added the new SCOBY and liquid to that batch.  Now that batch is sitting and doing its magic!  I still have the original, which I need to go make a new batch of tea for...

I hope that helps or encourages someone to try this!  If you have been wanting to, please go for it!  So easy and SO fun!  And so yummy.  And as my new SCOBYs continue to grow, I will gladly give them away.  Don't all of you ask at once.  ;-)

I can't wait to try flavoring some with secondary fermentation.  I am thinking a cranberry apple juice blend?  Ginger?  Lemon?

This website is helping me a lot right now if you are interested in learning more!

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at one of my favorite sites - Food Renegade.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GAPS {Stage 2 Information} Notes, Recipes, and Ideas

I know it's been a while since I posted Stage 1 information and the first post on Stage 2, but I wanted to go ahead and finish the Stage 2 information by posting notes, recipes, and ideas.  This will not be as long as Stage 1's post like this, as with each stage you build on the previous stage and it gets easier in regards to meal planning and ideas.  

Here's my first post on Stage 2.  

Here are my posts for Stage 1. (Part 1) (Part 2)

Now on to my Stage 2 thoughts...

  • Stick to anything Stage 1, but add fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano.  I know there are more to try adding, but those are my favorites.  We also added cinnamon in when making squash bars.   
  • You want to include a probiotic food with every meal - homemade 24 hr yogurt, sauerkraut juice.  You build on the amounts you ended stage 1 with and gradually increase (increase in small amounts and do the increases every few days as tolerated).   
  • You can move more into meals made up of meats and vegetables with broth on the side.  Broth is still incredibly essential at this point and should be had with every single meal.  We stuck mainly to soups still because we prefer that over drinking broth separately.  
  • You can make stewed recipes like the ones on my recipe tab under stage 2.  You can also do something like this with ground beef or beef stew meat (look more under ideas below).  
  • Overall, this is very simple and similar to stage 1, but adding in raw egg yolks ( in soups) then soft boiled eggs, fresh herbs (I also used dried in soups), and ghee.  Add ghee into soups. 
  • All Recipes under Stage 1 and Stage 2 in my Recipes tab.  
  • Recipes and Ideas in my Stage 1 post, but add an herb you like, egg yolk, soft boiled egg, and ghee as appropriate.  
  • Squash bars .  These aren't super sweet or tasty, but they are pleasant, and it is wonderful to have a baked texture.  Our boys LOVED them for snacks, which definitely helped me keep them satisfied!
  • Beef Casserole: This makes meals so wonderful for a change from soup.  Gently brown ground beef in fat like tallow or lard and enough broth to keep moist.  Once cooked, salt to taste.  You can then layer in a baking dish with vegetables of your choice.  Zucchini, peas and onions, tomatoes, celery root, carrots... anything that sounds good with beef to you.  Then simply top with well steamed or boiled cauliflower that has been pureed (I use my stick blender or you can use a blender or food processor), and you can even mix in more animal fat or ghee, once you know you handle it well.  Bake in the oven around 325 or 350 until the vegetables are cooked, usually about 20-30 minutes.  You can customize this to use anything you like!   My husband and our boys enjoyed this meal so very much after days of just soups.  You can also add raw egg yolk into it on your plate and mix it all together to make it sort of creamy! 
  • I am not listing all possible recipes like I did with Stage 1, because this stage is so similar to Stage 1, and so all my other ideas are on the Stage 1 posts :-). 
  • Build on all meat and vegetable ideas from Stage 1
  • Other Ideas (to hopefully make life more exciting): 
    • Sauces: (these don't have amounts because you can just make it to taste.  Use less or more broth depending on how thick you want it to be.)
      • Tomato Basil Sauce: Simmer some chicken or beef broth with tomato paste or puree and lots of fresh basil leaves.  Salt to taste, then puree to make a yummy tomato basil sauce.  Add ghee if tolerated for such a yummy treat.  
      • Lemon Basil Sauce: Simmer some chicken broth with fresh basil leaves.  You could also add crushed garlic!  Salt to taste, add lemon juice to taste.  Puree and pour over chicken or fish. 
      • Rosemary Garlic Sauce: Simmer broth of choice with a stalk of fresh rosemary.  Remove stalk of rosemary, add crushed garlic, cover and turn heat off.  After about 5-10 minutes (to let the garlic sit), salt to taste, puree if desired to get the garlic blended in (not necessary) and pour over beef or chicken. 
      • Thyme Sauce: Simmer broth of choice with sprigs of fresh thyme (or strips leaves from stems).  Can add garlic to this as well.  Remove sprigs (or if you just used the leaves, leave them in) and puree if desired.  I think this would be great also with some lemon juice in it.  Again, only necessary if you want to get the leaves of thyme and pieces of garlic blended really well.  Pour over meat.
      • Onion Gravy: Simmer broth of choice with sliced or chopped onions (can also gently saute onions in tallow or lard or chicken fat first and then simmer with broth) until onions are very soft.  Can add garlic.  Puree well, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over meat. Can add onions to any of the above sauces to make them thicker like a gravy, but only if you like onion flavor with those sauces.  :-) 
      • Mushroom Gravy: Simmer broth with mushrooms, salt to taste, and serve over meat and veggies that go well with mushrooms.  Could also make the onion gravy and then simmer mushrooms in that and serve.  mmmmm.  
    • Vegetables
      • Mashed Cauliflower!:  Boil or steam cauliflower well.  Puree well.  You can add broth and animal fat of your choice to taste.  Salt to taste.  Salt is important with this!  Once ghee is well tolerated, add that for super yumminess!  
      • Wish I had more...basically just well steamed or boiled veggies, but you can do that with one of the above sauces as you like.  Just make sure you have broth with your meals!  Vegetables with fat and salt are great snacks as well.  
      • Vegetable soups still :-).  But I do love those!  Especially topped with homemade yogurt if able.  (all my vegetable soup ideas here with the Stage 1, part 2 post)
    • Eggs: Soft boiled eggs, and we added hard boiled eggs once we knew we tolerated all egg in soup well.  This helped us a lot with hunger and snacks, but make sure you are doing well with eggs before adding hard boiled in.  Hard boiled eggs are not a recommended part of Stage 2 per GAPS protocol, BUT added them in after doing well with eggs in soups.  Stage 3 introduces scrambled eggs, so we felt it would work for us to add in hard boiled eggs kind of 'in between' Stage 2 and 3.  Here's my personal favorite way to hard boil eggs
I hope that helps somewhat and gives ideas.  It's always helpful to hear other people's ideas to build your own ideas off of! 

Again, keep in mind we moved through intro easily and fairly quickly.  So you will have to make modifications if you aren't tolerating certain foods well.  But I still hope this helps in some way.  If nothing else, I know it will help our family, as I know at some point in the future we will go back and do intro again for further healing and detoxification. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interesting Links: From Melanoma to Vaccines to Toxins to Toys

I just wanted to share some links I found interesting, helpful, informative, and worth my time reading.  Enjoy! 
Love this part:
"A common myth is that occasional exposure of your face and hands to sunlight is "sufficient" for vitamin D nutrition. For most of us, this is an absolutely inadequate exposure to move vitamin D levels to the healthy range. Further, if you use sunscreen, you will block your body's ability to produce vitamin D!

And, contrary to popular belief, the best time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is actually as near to solar noon as possible which is 1 PM in the summer for most (due to Daylight Saving Time).. The more damaging UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year -- unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening and high at midday.

When using the sun to maximize your vitamin D production and minimize your risk of malignant melanoma, the middle of the day (roughly between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) is the best and safest time. During this time you need the shortest exposure time to produce vitamin D because UVB rays are most intense at this time. Plus, when the sun goes down toward the horizon, the UVB is filtered out much more than the dangerous UVA."
  • Fantastic Posts from Food Renegade about Pork - I am just beginning to learn about this.   
  1. Is Pork bad for you?
  2. Guide to Pork - what to buy, how to eat it.  
  • Love this post about toys.  We are continually working towards simplifying our toy collection and making sure the toys we have are truly good to have for play and imagination.  
  • Vaccine movie from both sides.  I want to see this.  I am not anti-vaccine, and I believe most parents who do not follow the recommended vaccine schedules are also not anti-vaccine.  I am pro-SAFE vaccines and only for truly necessary diseases, not 'give my child a vaccine for anything and everything that could possibly give them a fever.  Have you looked at how many vaccines are 'recommended' to pour into an INFANT's body in the first year of life?!  Their bodies can NOT handle this.  And it is not necessary.  We need to take responsibility for our children and learn how to properly take care of sicknesses - foods, herbs, natural remedies, etc. to support our children's bodies when they get sick so their immune systems fight and gain strength.  Okay, I'm gonna stop now...
Hope you enjoy reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

When a Week Doesn't get Planned...

I just wanted to share some easy meal ideas for a week when things don't go as planned...or when planning doesn't get done for the week.  This past week I had no meals every day was an 'okay, what am I going to make today?' day.  I don't think that's so much fun.  But we stuck to simple meals and the week went pretty well with our eating!  We did eat out for a dinner, but that was more just because our home needed a lot of attention by the end of the week and I knew getting our home in order for the weekend was important.

Praise the Lord, we were able to stay consistent with juicing, which has helped us tremendously in a short time.  

So here's what we ate this week (and I made larger meals so we had plenty of leftovers for lunches).
  • Taco Soup (made in crock pot)
  • Beef Bourguinon 
  • Chicken Cilantro Soup  (made a large pot and had leftovers for lunch for 2 days!)
  • Breakfast for Dinner - eggs scrambled with browned sausage, sauteed onions, roasted sweet potato fries (not GAPS legal, but it's something we eat every now and then)
  • Meatloaf, roasted cauliflower (I was out of mushrooms, so I simply made the meatloaf without mushrooms and our boys loved it!)
  • Canned Salmon with sauerkraut and raw butter, smoothies with coconut milk and homemade yogurt and frozen fruit, pumpkin clafoutis
Other easy to throw together ideas: (I was keeping these in the back of my mind as options)

Roasted Chicken - I often do this in my crockpot, even from an entirely frozen whole chicken (there's nothing inside the body cavity in our chickens).  I will let it warm up a bit in the crockpot and then pour melted butter or olive oil and seasonings, salt, and pepper on top and let it cook all day.

Ground Beef - thaw it in warm/cool water in a big bowl or sink and brown it with veggies (onions and peas are great) and add an herb (like basil or oregano, or both) and salt and pepper.  We have made this a simple meal before, and of course adding a simple side vegetable or fruit or yogurt or simple soup makes it very satisfying.  Of course you can easily make a simple spaghetti sauce (tomato puree, salt, and Italian herbs) and bake in the oven over pre-cooked spaghetti squash or over sliced or 'noodled' zucchini.  Or make taco meat to serve with veggies, yogurt or homemade sour cream, raw cheese, and avocado. 

I love knowing what other people do for good dinners when you aren't well planned...any thoughts?!  I'd love to share ideas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finally! Juicing and Kombucha {Food Loves}

Well, my next post WAS going to be my broth process, but due to an incident, I have none of my pictures for as I make my next batches, I will take new pictures and do a post.  :-)  So I thought I'd share about something I have finally gotten into that I have desired very much for so long to do...

I never thought I would become a juicer.  But alas, I am mildly obsessed with it!  I think about it way too often, which to me means that maybe my body is really liking it and is benefiting from it.  When I think about juicing and making coffee, I pretty much prefer the thought of juicing.  That is HUGE for me :-).  I am hoping my cravings for coffee will be reduced or taken away by the minerals and enzymes and all that good stuff that I am getting. 

I kind of always thought people were a little weird for juicing because I thought we should be just eating everything we need.  However, if you look at things from a GAPS/SCD perspective (understanding that our guts and bodies are damaged by our inheritance and poor diets and therefore even if we ate enough veggies, our bodies have impaired digestion and therefore cannot absorb everything that's so good for us in fruits and veggies) it makes sense to add this into life.  We are also all probably deficient in minerals and enzymes, so it takes a lot to give our bodies what they need.  Juicing allows our bodies to get all the benefits of raw veggies without the difficulty of digesting them and therefore not getting everything good in them. 

We really want to take the plunge and get a juicer and add it into our days for minerals/enzymes and for aid in digestion.  Constipation, which is very common when on a GAPS diet in the early months (or even longer), can be helped by adding juice in, especially first thing in the morning.  It stimulates bile production, which helps digest fats.  If fats aren't digested well, they can cause issues.  You can read lots of great information all over the internet about juicing. 

One tip if you are concerned about blood sugar effects of juices is to whisk 1-2 raw egg yolks and a spoonful of homemade sour cream (we do use store bought if we are really needing it, although that isn't best because it isn't raw and it isn't fermented as long probably as we would do it) into your juice, making a sort of 'milkshake'. 

So, grab a helper if you and they are so inclined and try it!  (ok, I guess you might need to get a juicer first...)
Little mister loves helping make juice!

 1 large organic red apple, a couple handfuls of kale, 4 stalks of celery, 2 carrots...
 Oh my, I loved this and it feels so good to drink it and I feel so good after I drink these juices!!!  And seriously, let's just be honest, they have immediately greatly improved my digestion :-). 

If I can get into making this successfully, our grocery budget will be super happy.  And therefore, my husband can stop stressing.  ;-).  But seriously, it is incredibly economical to make it yourself - it can seem scary, though!  Someday I will do a cost comparison for what I use to make it.  First I have to actually finish my first batch.  But I am so excited I finally have gotten around to doing this!

I love this stuff.  LOVE.  And I love how it helps my body.  And you can make it with your own preferences in mind by adding small amounts of fruit juices at the end of the process.  Here's some great information about how wonderful this stuff is for you.  

I grew a SCOBY this way.  It worked amazingly well.  If you do it, which I think everyone should :-), do NOT throw it out if it looks like its developing mold on top.  Seriously, it will turn into a beautiful SCOBY. 
 So after you grow your SCOBY, follow this process, which is what I did
      1) I did 1 gallon to begin with since I only have 1 SCOBY.  Boil 1 gallon of water, add a lot of tea bags (I used 16! NOTE to SELF: get family size teabags next time!!)  Lipton is great to use and don't worry about it being organic.  Read more here.   Let it steep for 5 minutes, remove bags, add 1 cup sugar.  Let it sit out and cool to room temperature. 
      2) Pour sweetened, cooled tea into a giant gallon glass jar. 
      3) Add 1/2 cup of the kombucha from your starter/SCOBY jar into the gallon and then gently place the SCOBY on top of your tea.  Isn't it weird looking?  It's kinda creepy to handle the first time, but oh well, it's totally a neat science experiement! 
     4) My camera died here, so I don't have a picture of my gallon jar sitting and waiting, but once the SCOBY is in the jar with your tea and 1/2 cup of liquid your SCOBY was in, cover it with a towel, secure well (I used a stretchy hair band), and place the jar in a corner of your kitchen without a lot of light, especially sunlight.  I have mine in a corner near my stove to feed off the warmth created by it ALL the time.  Keep it away from other cultures or electromagnetic fields (don't use a seedling warmth mat, move away from appliance that are plugged in right by it). 

It's supposed to sit for about 5 days and then move on to the next part, which is adding a small amount of fruit juice, capping tightly  (in smaller jars or bottles), and fermenting 2 more days on the counter.  Then you simply move it into the fridge and enjoy. 

ah, I can't wait to update on how it goes...and hopefully it's a great update so that I stop spending our life savings on this amazing drink at the store...


So there you go, 2 of my food loves (up there with butter, raw cream, and bacon) added into our lives!!  YAY!! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hard Boiled Eggs, 2 Simple Soups, and a Chocolate Cookie

I am finding that on Mondays I need to focus on simple meals that are easy to put together so that I can focus on preparing for the remainder of the week and spending some time pouring into our boys after weekends that can sometimes be tiring and busy.

So today I made 2 very simple soups that were easy to put together but still super yummy and satisfying.  They aren't gourmet meals or anything, but I desire to focus on foods that are nourishing and nutrient dense - and sometimes that just means simple but always yummy!

First, though, I wanted to share my little process to making wonderful hard boiled eggs that aren't overdone!  This method also allows for multi-tasking (aka me forgetting to take care of the eggs because I get caught up doing something else!).  There is wiggle room in this that helps so very much!  And really, I am so excited because I have been testing this process over several batches, and they have all come out wonderful!  Cooked, yet still soft (not rubbery!), egg yolks cooked, but not overdone.  And they're easy to peel.  Yay.  So here we go.

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs {How-To}
(for the easily distracted cook and mom!)


  1. Fill your pot with water enough to cover eggs by about 1 inch (guesstimate :-) ) and bring to a boil
  2. Add salt - I usually throw in about 1 tsp-1 Tbsp depending on the size of pot I am using.  This helps with peeling!  
  3. Add your eggs gently (I find a slotted spoon works really well).
  4.  Cover and bring back to a boil. (this is the only part where you need to keep an eye on it at least every now and then).
  5.  Once it comes back to a boil, take lid off and set timer for 5 minutes.  All you have to do during this step is keep it at a gentle boil. (excuse the cooked egg floating in the water...apparently one of my eggs was cracked...don't worry, i removed it!)
  6. After the 5 minutes is up, remove from heat and put the lid back on. Set timer for 5 minutes again.  See, you don't even have to remember another time length!
  7. After those 5 minutes are up, place eggs (grab that spoon again!) in a bowl of ice water.  This stops the cooking process and allows you to not have to take care of it right away because you are so busy (or just get very easily distracted...). 
  8. Peel when you have time and refrigerate for easy meal additions or snacks!
So, to review and make it even more simple...
  • Boil water, add salt, add eggs, bring to a boil, timer for 5 minutes, turn heat off and cover for 5 minutes, put in ice water, peel when you can! 
How to adapt it for different sizes of eggs and if you are super easily distracted or busy doing different things in the kitchen:
  • the 5 minutes boil/5 minutes sit was for some large eggs.  I would take off 1 minute of each step for small eggs.  Try to do eggs that are all around the same size if your eggs vary.  
  • When I cook mine, I set my timer for the boiling part for the exact time because all I have to do is turn the flame off and cover it.  However, for the 5 minutes of sitting in hot water, I set my timer for 3 or 4 minutes because rarely am I ready to take the eggs out of the pot right away.  I hate overcooked hard boiled eggs, especially when the egg yolks get gray and hard, so I set my timer a little early to allow myself some wiggle room with not being ready to put them in the ice water instantly!

Chicken "Noodle" Soup {Stage 1 and beyond}

Stage 1 adjustments: omit parsley, can just boil veggies instead of sauteing

2 tbsp fat - chicken fat (from top of chilled broth), coconut oil, butter, or ghee
1-2 cups chopped or diced onions
1-2 cups chopped carrots
Parsley, fresh or dried
4-6 cups chicken broth (depending on how dense or liquidy you like your soups)
3-4 small-medium zucchini
2 cups chopped or shredded chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed or minced

  1. Saute onions and carrots in your choice of fat until onions begin to turn translucent.  Add Parsley (however much you want!  I used about 1 Tbsp dried).
  2. Add broth, bring to a boil.
    Meanwhile, prepare zucchini into noodles - thick by slicing the zucchini into desired size of strips or nice and thin (more like actual noodles) with a julienne slicer!  This time I did thick, but I think we prefer the thing ones with the julienne slicer.
  3. Once carrots are tender, add zucchini and simmer (covered or uncovered, whatever you prefer!) until zucchini are tender (time varies on size of zucchini 'noodles').
  4. Add chopped chicken and garlic, bring back to a boil and then turn heat off!  Cover and let sit 5-10 minutes.  
  5. Salt and pepper to taste!

Simple Chicken Enchilada Soup {Full GAPS or Stage 3}

Stage 3 adjustments: Omit cheese and use whatever dairy you are doing at this point - kefir, yogurt, or sour cream! It's still great without cheese!  Can also simply boil veggies instead of sauteing. 

2-3 Tbsp fat (chicken fat, ghee, butter, coconut oil)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups onion, chopped (about 1 medium-large onion)
2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
optional: small can of green chiles (I never use these because we aren't spice-handling peeps)
2 tsp ground coriander (or up to 1 Tbsp, depending on how much you love coriander)
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped or shredded chicken
2-3 additional garlic cloves, crushed or minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
At table: 
1-2 cups sour cream, yogurt, or kefir (raw is best)
6 oz shredded raw cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese

  1. Saute bell pepper, onion, (and optional chiles) and garlic in fat until onions are getting translucent. (The garlic in the tiny glass bowl is the cloves to save for later)
  2. Add coriander and some salt (I start with 1 tsp and then add salt at the end to taste) and stir.  Ah, the smell!
  3. Add broth, bring to a boil, and simmer until veggies are desired 'doneness'.  :-) 
  4. Add chicken, bring back to a boil. 
  5. Add remaining garlic, turn heat off, cover, and let sit 5-10 minutes.  
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.  
  7. Serve soup in bowls, and once the soup has cooled down to being just warm (so as to not kill all the good rawness bacteria and cultures in the cheese and sour cream/yogurt/kefir!!), add cheese and sour cream into bowls.  The amounts in the recipe are for the entire pot, so keep that in mind lest you simply dump all of it into just a few bowls. :-)  You could also add all of it to the pot, but you'd have to wait a mighty long time for the entire pot to cool down to being just warm!  It may not be the most beautiful soup, but it's yummy and we love it!! 

Chewy Chocolate Cookies {Full GAPS}
3 egg whites
2 cups almond flour
1-2 tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp honey (or less - or more! - to taste)
6 Tbsp raw organic cocoa powder (non-dutched!)
pinch of salt

  1. Beat Egg whites with vanilla until frothy.
  2. Beat in honey, then stir in almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
      It's very dense and doughy.  Keep your kids busy with anything.
  3.  Put on parchment paper lined cookie sheets (unless you have good baking sheets and don't need to use it!) in rounded teaspoons.  Note: my cookies did not change shape at all.  They don't fluff up or anything - I am going to play around with this recipe and hopefully get a better shape and texture. So how you put them on the cookie sheet will probably be how they turn out unless I am just not good at this.  I like the taste, though!
  4. Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes.  I like them less done - dense and fudgy in the middle!! 
These totally satisfied my chocolate cravings and were nice and dark and rich!  Like I said above, I am going to play around with this over time and see if I can come up with a chewier chocolate cookie.  But this was soft and fudgy in the middle, which I so enjoyed!!

I based it off this recipe for cinnamon nut cookies, which turned out the same when I made them.  Maybe it's the almond flour I am using?  They didn't look like her pictures, so maybe I'm doing something wrong.  Oh well, they were still super super yummy to us!!! 

Hope you enjoy something on here!!

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