Tag Archives: Healthy Eating

Ghee… Huh, wait, what?

Ghee

Ghee

Ghee [gee] – noun – a kind of liquid butter, used especially in the cooking of India, utilizing butter made from the milk of cows then clarified by boiling.

Ghee, funny name, oh believe me I know.  It’s pronounced with a “g” like gorgeous and that’s exactly what it is.  I originally learned about ghee while following a lightweight backpacking online group.  It’s utilized by backpackers because it is shelf-stable (no refrigeration needed) and so much more flavorful than oil for cooking.  All I knew at this point was that it was Indian butter.

My friend’s son is autistic and was put on “the diet” (gluten, casein, soy & corn free  – with great results I might add).  We were busy looking for new and creative recipes for the family so he wasn’t singled out when I once again saw ghee references. I started looking at you tube videos and recipes online.  Now I’m a very confident cook and always ready to try new things but this was different, Tyler could have ghee but not butter so if I made a mistake I could cause problems for him.  I finally worked up the nerve to make a batch with the help of my former boss, a wonderful woman and dear friend from India who walked me through the process better than a you tube video ever could (thanks again Paulomi!).  Once made, we passed it around and tasted it in absolute awe.  It’s like butter, but so so much better.  Unlike anything we’d ever tasted before.

EatingWell

How do you make ghee?

Truly, you boil the butter.  That’s it. Then you strain it.  (Seems too simple, I don’t get it..)

First you start by putting butter in a good solid bottomed pan.  My daughter gave me an enamel coated Lodge cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas several years ago which is now known as my ghee pot.

Next, the butter.  Well, here’s where it doesn’t matter too much because you’re removing the dairy, as well as the salt.  I am in an area where I can pick up Amish butter at a great price.  If you’re looking for grass-fed only, look for Kerry Gold.  To my knowledge it’s the only grass-fed that’s commercially available.  However, I have stocked up on butter at the grocery when it went on sale and made ghee with it and not noticed a difference in the end result.

When the butter starts to melt it will go from its normal pale yellowish white to a bright yellow and creamy.  Once it comes to a simmer/gentle boil, leave it.  Come back every once in a while (20 minutes or so) and stir it.  I use a plastic pancake turner with a straight edge because it allows me to scrape the bottom to keep the solids from sticking.  I have a wooden paddle but I noticed that it tends to absorb the salt as well as the oils.  You’ll find some people will refer to ghee as clarified butter but that is incorrect.  Clarified butter (or drawn butter) is made at this first stage when the butter first separates but is still that bright yellow.  (Think of what they serve at Red Lobster with your crab legs). As it continues to boil it will become more and more clear and more of an amber color and all the butter.  The batch I have in the picture was boiled for approximately 2 hours.

Time to strain.  I have wire strainer that I set over the bowl from my Kitchen-Aid mixer (in the picture).  I then took my cheesecloth and folded it in quarters and put it in the strainer.  I poured the finished ghee through the cheesecloth to strain out the carbonized dairy solids.  Once it all strained, I then picked up the cheesecloth by the corners (making a pouch) and kept twisting it tight to squeeze out any ghee that was left.  Believe me when I say this step is worth it.  Between the solids and the cheesecloth you should be able to squeeze out several ounces.  As you can see by the picture, there are a lot of dairy solids that come out.  This also contains the casein which is an allergen for some folks, as well as one of the offending items for autistic kids.

Here’s what’s removed from the butter when you turn it into ghee. The dairy is completely carbonized. I strained it through cheesecloth then squeezed out the excess.ghee 2I started with 6 pounds of butter (on sale $2 a pound). The finished result netted me 1 quart jar and 7 eight ounce jars. This lasted us for about 12 weeks.  Put the lids on and put it in the cabinet.  Treat it as you would any other oil.  Just so you’re aware, if your home is cool this may start to solidify and that’s okay, you haven’t done anything wrong making it.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Okay, I made it.  Now what do I do with it?

The question now is what can’t you do with it?  It can be used in any recipe for oil or butter.  Here’s the best part IMO.  Ever get a pan too hot when you’re going to cook something with butter and it burns?  Not with ghee.  All the parts that would burn, you’ve already removed.  You can pan fry your eggs or fish, brush it on bread for a grilled cheese or as toast, drizzle it on broccoli or popcorn… you name it!.  My favorite is to sauté garlic in ghee for a few minutes.  It’ll taste like you roasted it in the oven for an hour!  Put that in some mashed potatoes or cauliflower and you will think you’re in heaven.

There’s benefits too?

Ghee has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine and diet.  It’s believed to lubricate joints, help with mental function (not unlike newly discovered properties of coconut oil), stimulate digestion and even aid in the absorption of herbs and spices from dishes for medicinal benefit.

Try it out and tell me what you think.  I guarantee you’re going to keep it in the house all the time and convert your friends.  Be sure to share this with them too!

Maggie 

 

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BBQ Shrimp and Mango Salad

BBQ Shrimp n Mango salad

This was so simple, it literally took a total of 15 minutes including the prep.  It doesn’t get any easier.  So delicious and you can add or incorporate anything your imagination allows.  You’ll find that I’m a cook that doesn’t follow a lot of recipes, I follow flavors and ideas so even as I write this to share with you, I’m thinking of what I can do next time (add bacon).

 

This was a perfect summer dinner for 2 but is easily multiplied for guests.  It doesn’t heat the house, not heavy but yet very satisfying.

 

Perfect for that night when you really don’t want to cook because it is put together in the same or less time than a frozen pizza or {gasp} hot dogs and a box of mac & cheese and is so much healthier!

 

This would also be a great dinner for company because you’re not spending time in the kitchen while everyone else gets to hang out with a glass of wine.

BBQ Shrimp Salad Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp bacon fat or extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 – 12 oz bag of large shrimp, uncooked, with shells and tails off

  • Fresh spinach

  • 1 ripe mango, diced

  • 1 ripe avocado, diced

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin

  • 2 oz barbecue sauce, homemade or your favorite bottle**

  • 3-4 oz water, chicken stock or white wine

** This recipe will be gluten free if you need it to be just by watching your BBQ sauce label or making your own.

Shrimp saute

Over medium high heat in a non-stick saute pan, add the bacon fat.  Once it’s hot, add the shrimp.

Toss or stir with a wood spoon to keep from sticking and to cook evenly.

Salad prep

Plate your spinach and as you prep the onion, avocado and mango put them on top of the spinach.

Shrimp add BBQ

Add your BBQ sauce and toss to coat

Shrimp in BBQ

Add your liquid and let it cook for another 2 minutes to cook out any liquor and reduce slightly.  It will be nice and thick.  Divide the shrimp between the two plates, making sure to use a spatula to get every last drop of that sauce out of the pan and drizzle over the shrimp.

Serve and enjoy!  And you thought I was joking when I said this was easy!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Tell me what you think!

Maggie

Picky Eaters? Choosy Moms Choose Paleo.

Picky eaters can put parents over the edge.  (Along with Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, friends with kids, etc.) The kids that only want to eat three things for dinner but junk food is fair game.  You know the child.  They could be yours, a niece or nephew, your bff’s kid, but we all know at least one.   We try to introduce new foods.  Look at magazines for help, but when they show you a hot dog cut as an octopus, it’s really no help because it’s still a hot dog…. Make some thing with asparagus, now that will impress me!

I was blessed with a child who loves vegetables but even she had her moments.  When she was about 2-1/2 my mom tried giving her creamed spinach.  From then on just the word brought on near PTSD flash backs of the incident. Then she discovered lasagna Florentine and wedding soup.  When she asked what the green stuff was I thought quickly and answered “Italian parsley”.  And so it stayed for several years.   At 23 my daughter is still an avid vegetable eater and a great cook because she’s not afraid to try new things or combinations.  To the point that my husband and I will only eat Brussels sprouts if she’s cooking them!

The goal is to get them to eat and to eat well.  Not junk, but well balanced meals.  Of course there’s bribery, eat your dinner and you can have dessert.  But for those of us who really are trying to eat healthy, we really struggle with offering desserts.

In my opinion, one of the joys of parenting is trickery.  Getting away with something in front of your kids is empowering.  Don’t believe me?  Tell me you don’t have a cheesy grin when your child comes running into the room to tell you that the tooth fairy came, right?  Admit it.

So what if they’re clawing tooth and nail to get at dessert and dessert is actually good for them?  I know, the possibilities are mind blowing really.  That’s where paleo comes in.  Even if you don’t follow the diet and just want to make some healthier choices for you and your family, paleo desserts are the way to go.  The key here is to NOT let them help in the kitchen (normally I’m down for having them right there with you, but subversive activity requires secrecy.)

So what is “Paleo”?  Its a plant and meat based diet.  No grains, dairy, soy or legumes.  It’s become very popular and it’s very good for you.  It’s perfect for the person with food sensitivities (lactose or gluten intolerance, allergies, etc), autism, diabetes, arthritis, etc.   Needless to say to maintain no grains, dairy, soy or legumes, cooking and recipes can get quite creative.

banana cinnamon chocolate chip muffins

I mean sure, you expect bananas in these delectable Banana Cinnamon Chocolate muffins.

….but no flour? (by TaylorMadeItPaleo)

 

paleo_brownies_2

But what if I told you these brownies had no flour or nuts and was made with sweet potatoes?  (by EatDrinkPaleo) Do I have your interest now?

paleo-chocolate-cupcakes_coconut-cream-filled

What if I told you that these frosted cupcakes…. (by LivingLowCarb),

avopudding-3

... and this smooth and delicious chocolate pudding (by HowSweetItIs),

Milkshake-with-avocado

… and even this creamy delicious milkshake (by MeaningfulEats),

… all have avocados in them!  Oh yeah, and they’re dairy free!

We’re always hearing about how avocados are so good for you, packed with nutrition, but unless you make guacamole or put them on a sandwich or salad, can be at a loss on how to eat them.  These are great ways to get what your body needs while providing what the mouth and mind want as well.  🙂

Okay, so I’m also going to mention that sometimes it’s not the kids that are picky… it’s the adults.  It’s the husband that needs to cut a few pounds or the aging parents that have developed a bit of a sweet tooth that can also be hard to feed too.  Trying to argue with an aging parent about desserts sometimes can be like asking for a kidney.  If you’ve done it you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t done it, just wait.  These can be the perfect desserts to give them the extra nutrition they need without the carbs, calories and filler they don’t.  Drop over for a visit and bring dessert and leave the pan.  Tell them you made extras and you thought they would like them (or better yet, that the kids didn’t need that many sweets in the house LOL).  Remember when they made you eat liver?  Now’s your revenge.  Enjoy!

Hugs!

 
Maggie
 

Embrace Wellness, One Bite At A Time

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Kitchen Safety & Salmonella

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella enterocolitis is one of the most common types of food-borne illness and it occurs when you have ingested the bacteria causing an infection in the lining of the small intestine.

As we all should be aware of by now, raw chicken, raw turkey and improperly stored eggs carry salmonella and should be handled with care.  You do not want raw poultry or anything that touches it, to touch anything else, without being properly cleaned first.  This includes knives, cutting boards, dishes and most especially, your hands.

Back in my restaurant management days I had to go through ServSafe training.  ServSafe is a comprehensive training program developed by the National Restaurant Association on proper food handling and foodborne illness and pathogens.  During the course of the training, they had us put on hand lotion that was UV light reflective.  We were then sent to go wash our hands, complete with antibacterial soap.  Upon returning, absolutely sure that we had done a wonderful job, our trainer shut off the overhead light and came around the room with the UV light.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, none of us got to feel the sense of accomplishment that we’d hoped for as we saw the creases of our hands and the corners of our nail beds glow with pseudo-bacteria.

 

Bacteria under a microscope
Bacteria under a microscope

 

A Change of Thinking

Many cookbook authors over the years, recommended washing chicken before preparing it. Now researchers at Drexel University and New Mexico State University have launched a PSA that debunks the widely accepted best poultry practice in just 14 seconds.

If you are washing poultry, you are basically splattering bacteria all over the sink, the countertops, your forearms—everywhere that some stray bit of water might be splattered.  According to NPR, “Some studies suggest bacteria can fly up to 3 feet away from where your meat is rinsed—though you can’t necessarily see it.”  It doesn’t have to be soaked to be contaminated

There’s a less gross reason to keep your chicken far, far away from the faucet and that is that wet meat doesn’t brown as readily. o if you’re making a roast chicken or your holiday turkey, the drier the skin is when you pop that bird in the oven, the more burnished and flavorful and crispy the skin will become. Yum!

Practical Prepping: Building A Pantry

Pantry canning jars

I was raised by parents whose own parents lived through the depression.  As such, we learned to prep.  Not for zombies or nuclear war, but for hard times, snow storms and power outages.

I remember quite vividly the blizzard of ’78.  (If you don’t remember it or weren’t here yet, check out those pics.) My parents had just bought our first house in Northern Illinois, just 8 miles south of the Wisconsin border.  Being from NYC and then Chicago, it was a huge thing to have a house and yard, but to find out we lived on an emergency snowmobile route was truly amazing!  My Grandma came for a visit (the fun one), and because of airports being snowed in, she wound up staying much longer than she was supposed to.  Not everyone had as much fun as we did though.

Why Prep?

There are many reasons to prep…

  • short paycheck (or several)
  • no paycheck (or several)
  • medical emergency,
  • natural disasters
    • hurricanes (the names Sandy, Ike, Katrina, Andrew, Isabel and Hugo come to mind)
    • blizzards
    • wildfires
    • tornadoes
    • earthquakes (Haiti)
    • tsunamis (Indonesia, Japan)

I was taught to be a pantry shopper.  I don’t meal plan, I’ll be honest it clashes with my ADD.   I have a grocery budget, I buy what’s on sale… meat, produce, canned goods.  I meal plan from what I have on sale.  Sure there are times that I deviate because I’m in the mood to make something different, but this is how I build my pantry.   Needless to say, if I can get $100 worth of groceries for $75, I’m still going to spend the entire $100 that I budgeted to make sure I have back up.

When my husband and I first started living together, there was a bit of an adjustment.  He was taught to buy what you need when you need it.  When I came home with a case of boxes of macaroni & cheese from a redeemed rain check, he was beside himself.  Why would I possibly buy so much for a family of 3?  He felt it was excessive.  I showed him the receipt.  They were on sale for 10 cents when they normally cost 55 cents each.  Why should we pay full price in the future.  We were still going to eat it in the future but they wouldn’t honor the sale price on our schedule.  I spent $3.60 instead of $19.80 for something we were going to be eating anyway.  In the meantime the money that we just saved could now be used for other items.

Whether it’s buying extra canned goods or canning produce from your garden to last for the winter, it’s best to have extras on hand… just in case.  Utilize sales, coupons, buy one/get one offers as well as farmers markets deals and your garden.  Everything you grow you don’t have to buy!

You’ll find you save money in the long run by buying things when they’re on sale rather than when you need them.  You will also eat better without boxes of chemical helper.

The best part is that in an emergency, you’ll have better choices than just cans of tuna, cream of chemical soup, ramen noodles and saltines.

Maggie

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