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LF Herbed Chicken Salad

We love chicken salad. It’s a great way to utilize leftovers or the meat off a chicken you’re using to make bone broth. Sure, there are a lot of chicken salad recipes out there, and they’re all pretty much the same, but here’s where mine differs: I use LF mayonnaise. I use AnnMarie of CHEESESLAVE’s recipe…tweaked just a little bit. I like a bit more mustard, and a bit more lemon, but that’s just me. Use your favorite mayo recipe, but for goodness sake, don’t use commercially made mayonnaise! Homemade is super easy to make–all you need is a blender or a food processor and 5 minutes. I have it down to a science, LOL.

basil

Fresh Basil

Please note that the I haven’t listed amounts really…this is deliberate. If you have only one chicken breast, that will work, as will the meat from a whole chicken. If you like it creamier, add more mayo or sour cream. Not so fond of lemon juice? Apple Cider Vinegar will do the trick. Don’t have basil on hand? Try fresh thyme, rosemary, or even italian parsley. You get the idea: get creative!

LF Herbed Chicken Salad

Leftover chicken, diced
Homemade LF mayo
Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche (I find this locally sold as “extra rich sour cream.”)
3 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
1/2 onion, peeled and finely diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
A bunch of fresh basil leaves, julienned
A bunch of fresh italian parsley leaves, julienned
Juice from 1/2 of an organic lemon
RealSalt to taste
Organic black pepper to taste

Combine the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl; set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add dressing and fold together until well combined. Transfer salad to a serving bowl (I don’t know about you, but my mixing bowl is much too big for my fridge), cover with cheesecloth, and let rest at room temperature for about an hour before storing in the fridge. The resting at room temperature allows the lactobacilli to proliferate, increasing nutrients and digestibility. The overall flavor improves with time, as well–I try to make this at least one day ahead of when I want to eat it. 🙂

Enjoy and be well!

Twisting the Night Away

It’s Tuesday, and time for Gnowgflin’s Tuesday Twister Blog Carnival, where participants describe what’s been “twisting” in their kitchens! I haven’t participated in some time, but I’m getting back into the groove 😉  So, what’s been twisting in my kitchen?

  • Sourdough starter. I *love* my sourdough, and lately have been experimenting with whole wheat and rye flours. I’m not too thrilled with the results, but that may be because we’re just not used to heavier breads. I really need to invest in a grain mill and grind my own…I’m sure that will help!
  • Kefir. This isn’t new of course! The kids love it, especially in smoothies. We’re currently on a blueberry kick–I froze a ton of them last summer and they blend up so nicely…YUM!
  • Fermented veg: I have sauerkraut, ginger carrots (my personal fav) and pickles all going strong–I cannot wait until the farmer’s markets start up again….this spring I’m dying to try my hand at fermented green tomatoes, a la Bubbies.
  • Kombucha. My first batch failed horribly–mold grew on the SCOBY and everything. I think it was in the wrong room, at the wrong temperature, and I have a suspicion that I didn’t let the water sit out long enough to let the chlorine dissipate before brewing the tea. I was so disappointed! I’ve ordered another SCOBY though, and hopefully the next batch will work. I’m crossing my fingers! If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears 🙂

So that’s it! That’s what’s twisting in my kitchen this week. What’s twisting in yours?

A crazy six months

So. It’s been quite some time since my last post. Lots has happened since then:

  • I was laid off from my job as a writer
  • My husband’s health has continued to decline (he has COPD, a seriously debilitating disease)
  • We suffered a break in our water pipes this winter, which required our living room to be gutted and then repaired

So as you can see, along with taking care of two young children, I’ve had my hands full! I manage to get on FB most days, but blogging? The layoff really hit me where it hurt: my self confidence in my writing skills. I know the layoff occurred because contracts didn’t get awarded as promised. I know the economy is in the toilet. I know my employer would have kept me on if she could have…(and kept me as long as she could). But even so, I don’t care who you are, a layoff is devastating. So. There you have it. But with the help of my husband and my brothers, who are extremely supportive, I’ve  pulled through. And made a life changing decision, as well: I’m going back to school.

Trying to find a new job has proven impossible. I’m either underqualified or overqualified. I don’t have a degree, so that’s a huge strike against me. And that’s the key to a well paid position. So, keeping the big picture in mind, I have to get that degree. I have 45 credits towards that Associates degree already, so that’s halfway done. Now to get those Science and Math classes…argh. Those subjects are *not* my cup of tea, I must say. In fact, I’m deathly afraid of Math class. But ohwell! It must be done, and I have motivation unlike any other time in my life.

After I complete the AA degree, I’ll enroll at UW—they have a direct transfer agreement with Olympic College. My ultimate goal is to graduate with a degree in Healthcare Leadership. I’m hoping they don’t require a class in nutrition, though! If they do, I’ll be sure to come armed with my WAPF literature. I cringe at the thought of taking a standard “nutrition” class—hey! Maybe I can get some WAPF folks to be guest lecturers 😉

Ok, so there’s my story. I’m feeling the creativity flowing now…watch this space for more (regular) posts!

Traditional Food #2: Kefir

Today’s post is about kefir, the second item in my Top 10 Traditional Foods list. Kefir is a cultured milk beverage, similar to yogurt, but typically thinner–think “drinkable”. Like yogurt, kefir contains friendly bacteria (probiotics) that aid in digestion. Unlike yogurt, the bacteria found in kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract–providing a fantastic defense against pathogens.

So where can you get kefir? Some grocery stores carry it; Lifeway and Helios are two brands I can find locally. You can also make your own kefir; it’s very simple. Kefir is made when kefir grains, placed into milk, are left to culture (ferment) for usually 24 hours. So what is a kefir grain? Sounds weird, right? Here’s what Dom, the Kefir Guru, has to say about them:

A batch of kefir grains consist of many individual white to bone-coloured mostly self-enclosed bodies made up of a soft, gelatinous biological mass somewhat resembling cooked cauliflower rosettes. The complexity of the kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, lipids [fats] and soluble-polysaccharides. Kefiran a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues, is the major polysaccharide of kefir grains and is also found in kefir. The bacteria and yeasts not only create the bio-matrix structure, or the grains, the organisms are also harboured by the very structure that they create; abiding on the surface, and encapsulated within the grain itself

Check out Dom’s site here. He is truly the Kefir Guru and you will learn more than you ever thought possible about kefir. It’s fascinating reading; kefir grains can also be used to culture sugar water–I haven’t tried it yet, but I may this summer when the weather warms up.

Kefir Grains

Kefir Grains

So why do I drink kefir? The taste, for starters. I love fermented foods and the effervescent quality of kefir really makes it for me. I substitute it for milk whenever I can–I made coleslaw dressing the other day with kefir, and it was fabulous. It helps with digestion; drinking some always helps settle my stomach and has helped with nausea. It has another, intangible aspect as well. When I drink kefir, I *know* that it’s good for me. It’s almost as if the effectiveness is immediate. Some people (Dom) claim it has spiritual properties. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it is wonderful.

Kefir is also relatively inexpensive to produce. The grains will culture any kind of milk (and non-milks such as pumpkin seed, etc); I use organic whole milk. A one time investment of under $10 will last a long time as grains reproduce and can be maintained indefinitely. I should qualify that I’m not actively culturing any kefir at the moment; my grains didn’t survive our move home last summer. I’ve been buying Lifeway lately and am pleased with it, but I can’t wait for my new grains as I prefer my kefir on the tart side. Commercially prepared kefir tends to be very mild.

My kids enjoy it, too: kefir smoothies are a huge hit in our house. We’re on a strawberry kick right now; here’s Mo’s Strawberry Smoothie:

1 cup kefir
2 large organic strawberries, washed
1 tsp of your favorite sweetener (we use raw honey)
1 tsp virgin coconut oil

I throw everything into my processor and whizz until done. Sometimes I omit the honey; it depends on the sweetness of your other ingredients.

Kefir resources for your viewing pleasure:

Dom’s Kefir in-site
http://comfort4adhd.tripod.com/id44.html
http://www.lifeway.net/

My Top 10 Traditional Foods

Five years ago (or thereabouts), during one of my normal trawls through the library’s cookbook section, I came across a book called “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.” How could I resist a title like that?

Nourishing Traditions

Nourishing Traditions

I took it home, expecting to find a compilation of vegetarian, lowfat recipes, and instead found not just a cookbook, but a reference manual. I don’t mean reference manual as in The Joy of Cooking; this is a reference manual that debunks every food myth you’ve ever come across, and advocates eating foods prepared in the traditional way.

Synopsis from newtrendspublishing.com:

This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper funciton of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Sally Fallon dispels the myths of the current low-fat fad in this practical, entertaining guide to a can-do diet that is both nutritious and delicious.

Topics include the health benefits of traditional fats and oils (including butter and coconut oil); dangers of vegetarianism; problems with modern soy foods; health benefits of sauces and gravies; proper preparation of whole grain products; pros and cons of milk consumption; easy-to-prepare enzyme enriched condiments and beverages; and appropriate diets for babies and children.

Sally Fallon clearly makes her case for traditional foods such as raw milk, fermented grains and vegetables, saturated fats (coconut oil in particular), and cultured dairy products that I was an instant convert. More on that later.

This subject is too broad to cover in one post, so today I’ll limit discussion to my Top 10 Traditional Foods. When I say my Top 10, I mean the traditional foods that I have successfully incorporated into our diet without too much griping from the peanut gallery 🙂

  1. Coconut Oil
  2. Kefir
  3. Home-raised eggs
  4. Whole milk yogurt
  5. Whey
  6. Flax oil
  7. Wild Salmon
  8. Sprouted vegetables (including sprouted grain bread)
  9. Kombucha
  10. Fermented vegetables: sauerkraut and kimchi

Each of these deserves it’s own post, really, so let’s start with the first item on the list: coconut oil.

In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon starts her introduction talking about fats, and devotes 16 pages to the subject; it is the one section of the book that truly requires a complete mindset. If you can wrap your brain around her message, (low-fat=bad, right fat=good) then you’ve become an instant convert. That’s what happened to me!

She methodically explains the history of the subject–faulty research in the 1950’s, agribusiness concerns; then the chemistry of fats, and why we should eat more, not less, is explained. Here’s an excerpt, from page 20:

In summary, our choice of fats and oils is one of extreme importance. Most people especially infants and growing children, benefit from more fat in the diet rather than less. But the fats we ear must be chosen with care. Avoid all processed foods containing newfangled hydrogenated fats and polyunsaturated oils. Instead, use traditional vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil and small amounts of unrefined flax seed oil. Acquaint yourself with the merits of coconut oil for baking and with animals fats for occasional frying. Eat egg yolks and other animal fats with the proetins to which they are attached. And, finally, use as much good quality butter as you like, with the assurance that it is a wholesome–indeed, an essential–food for you and your whole family.

Organic butter, extra virgin olive oil, and expeller-expressed flax oil in opaque containers are available in health food stores and gourmet markets. Edible coconut oil can be found in Indian and Caribbean markets.

Coconut oil was the easiest to incorporate into our diet. Funnily enough: my husband is not much into health food or exercise (ok, he’s a lazy retired guy). So I decided to use coconut oil in our stir-fry, and not tell him; if I had, he would have protested forever. Instead, I went ahead with it, and sure enough, he poked his head in and asked “What smells so good?” I fed him and the kids coconut oil for months before I told him what I’d done. I hated to be sneaky like that, but hey, it worked, so I’m happy.

So why do I like coconut oil? It smells great, for one thing. If you don’t like that smell, no worries: there are many different grades/refined states from which to choose. I prefer the organic, un-refined coconut oil; I find that it is very aromatic during the cooking process, but the flavor doesn’t overwhelm in the finished dish. It has a high smoke point, so you don’t have to worry about scorching your cookware; it is stable and can be kept for months without becoming rancid; it contains lauric acid, a fatty acid with strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and it’s the only naturally saturated fat besides butter available locally, LOL. I’d like to try palm oil but haven’t worked up the courage.

Try cooking with coconut oil. I think you’ll be presently surprised, as I was.

So, next up: Kefir! It’s an amazing, probiotic cultured milk beverage; think yogurt, but different. More to come.

Our new favorite vegetable

I am married to a serious “meat and potatoes” man. His meal is incomplete if it doesn’t include protein and he will let me know about the error of my ways. I’ve stopped trying to sneak vegetarian meals to him (Why fight a losing battle, right?), and instead focus on finding vegetables that he will eat and creative ways to serve his favorites.

A bunch of broccoli rabe

A bunch of broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe (aka rapini, broccolini, or raab) is one veg that I’ve been dying to try for quite some time, lover of all things pasta that I am. It’s a relative of broccoli and turnips; it looks like a cross between broccoli and mustard greens. Since hubby will not eat broccoli, I was hesitant to try it, but he does like greens, so I thought it was worth a shot. Our bunch had edible flowers on it, as well, which was great for the kids–they needed no enticement.

Broccoli rabe has a very strong flavor, which tastes as you might expect: like broccoli. Only more pungent. Some people think it has a bitter taste, but I didn’t think so. Pungent? Yes. Bitter? No. It goes well with pasta or beans; I sauteed mine with garlic (a lot of garlic), red pepper flakes, and onion in olive oil before adding in some rotini and chicken stock. And for the meat lover? Sliced italian sausage. The dish came together beautifully; the girls really enjoyed it and cleaned their plates.

One note, however: when searching for recipe ideas, I found that most called for a blanching step prior to sauteeing the rabe. I took a chance and threw the raw rabe right into hot oil. My thought was that the stock would do the job the blanching would, and it would add another depth of flavor as well. Here’s the finished dish:

Broccoli rabe with italian sausage and rotini

Broccoli rabe with italian sausage and rotini

I’m a huge fan of chef Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. If you’re not familiar with her cookbooks or her PBS show, read about her here. Her cooking style is all about quality and simplicity, and it was with this in mind that I purchased not just the rabe but also the most expensive pasta ever…DeCecco. I about peed my pants when I saw the price, but it was worth it. Best. Pasta. Ever. If it’s carried by your local grocery store, try it. It’s worth it.

Why I love teriyaki (migrated)


I love teriyaki. Absolutely love it. It’s easy to make, stands up well to any type of protein, is extremely adapatable and kids really like it. There are plenty of teriyaki joints in Seattle (I think it was invented here, LOL) and there are so many variations. The flexibility is what I enjoy most; if I’m out of one ingredient I can always find a substitute in my pantry.

Here’s my basic teriyaki sauce recipe. Use it with chicken, beef, pork, salmon, halibut, or tofu; whatever you like, really. A thought: I’ve never tried it with lamb. Hmm.

2 cups tamari or soy sauce
1 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/2 c packed brown sugar or equivalent amount of Splenda
Red pepper flakes or Cayenne pepper to taste

That’s it! My basic recipe. I also like to add any or all of the following, depending on my mood:

  • chopped fresh ginger
  • sesame oil
  • garlic
  • Hoisin or Oyster sauce
  • fish sauce






Note: using Splenda not only cuts calories and carbs, but imparts sweetness without burning during cooking, as sugar will. Don’t like Splenda? Use stevia, agave, or whatever floats your boat. It’s all good.

Combine all in a plastic bag large enough to hold your chosen protein. Marinating is essential, but not for too long; 30 minutes is enough. Any longer, and the citric acid in the juice will begin to “cook” the meat, resulting in a mushy texture.

Cook your protein according to your preferred method; for our dinner last night I baked bone-in chicken thighs. Reserve a bit of the marinade, too. It’s great on either rice or noodles–but be sure to bring it to a boil first–want to make sure any bacteria from the protein are taken care of.

I also prepared a stir fry of red and yellow peppers, green onions, and chinese cabbage. This is the part the kids enjoy the most–Mom wielding a sharp knife with such colorful vegetables! Mo was allowed to scoop out the seeds and pith from the peppers; and she also scooped out the coconut oil for the wok. I boiled some japanese soba noodles, added them to the veg, and threw the reserved teriyaki in as well—delish!