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Easy Fig Jam

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Before fresh figs are out of season, I want you to have this incredibly easy and delicious recipe! If you have ever made cranberry sauce from scratch for Thanksgiving, you will find that making this fig jam is much the same … you will bring the fruit to a simmer, add a sweetener (in this case I use maple syrup) and add citrus, and, voilà, the fruit will practically transform into a vibrant and sweet jam by itself!

Ingredients

  • about 30 fresh figs, cut into quarters and stems removed
  • the juice of one lemon
  • the zest from one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan or stock pot (stainless steal or enamel works best), combine the figs, the lemon juice, the lemon zest, the vanilla and the maple syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and stir continually.
  2. Continue to stir occasionally, for 30-40 minutes or until the liquid is thick and sticky. I like a chunky jam, so I use a potato masher to smash the figs as they simmer. For a smoother jam, you can put the fig mixture into a food processor.
  3. Spoon jam into glass jars, leaving about 1/4 inch space and close with a lid.
  4. Let the jar(s) cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
  5. Refrigerator for up to one month.
  6. Makes about 16 ounces of jam.
  7. Enjoy!

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A summer to make friends with pain.

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It’s the final day of summer, and this photo was taken right at the beginning of this summer, which was a great one for us on the whole. It was a unique summer in that, for whatever reason, I was compelled to address some chronic pain issues I have been living with for … well … almost 20 years, if I am honest about it.

This summer, I was inspired to face my chronic neck, jaw and shoulder pain in a new way. I have never been an Advil kind of girl, and I have always known that stress was a major contributor to my pain. Over the years, there were times when I  couldn’t even open my mouth to eat because of the pain. Dietary changes have helped me greatly, so in that sense, I have been on a positive track, experiencing decreasing pain over time, instead of increasing pain. However, that just reaffirms for me how much pain I actually started in.

Many of us are in pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, or both. I have found that my physical pain causes the emotional kind and vice versa, so it’s a relentless feedback loop.

There are many ways to address pain, and anyone who tells you there is just one way to fix it is oversimplifying it.

This summer, I decided to get really intimate with my pain, and see what I could learn from it about why it was there.

I read Norman Cousins’s 1979 book “Anatomy of an Illness” which was written almost 20 years ago, but you’d think it was a new release because it is still so relevant. I read and re-read the chapter on “Pain is not the Enemy”. I highly recommend this book to anyone in pain.

Even though I wasn’t the type of person who used medications to cover my pain, I had always tried to cover it and hide it in other ways, and worst of all, ignore it all together. And, by the way, this is not a referendum against pharmaceutical pain killers … remember, anyone who tells you there is only one way to go about this is misrepresenting the process.

This summer, Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbalism have been the cornerstone of my way “in” with my pain. These modalities have offered me a vehicle to walk towards it, move into it, get up close to it, and communicate with my body. Really communicate.

For me, Chinese medicine (hence the cupping mark on my chest plate), herbalism, specific types of exercise, an early bedtime, adequate heat and sunshine, space for joyfulness and plenty of nourishing foods are the players in my pain management system.

I did not learn everything about my pain this summer, but I learned a lot and will do what I can moving forward to view pain as an ingenious communication tool, rather than what I viewed it as before. I don’t even know what I viewed it as before, to be honest, I actually just panicked every time I had pain. And since I have been in chronic pain for 20 years, I guess I existed in a perpetual state of panic!

So, the final day of summer which means the first day of fall tomorrow. The autumnal equinox … the equinox is equal parts night and day. The yin and yang. The balance. The change. The evolution. I am ready for autumn and all it has in store … It’s season of gratitude and the season of harvest. It’s also the season of letting go. Perhaps the trees will let go of their leaves, and I will let go of panic from pain. I am looking forward to all that and more.

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Summer Bock’s Sauerkraut

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Sauerkraut is a great first fermentation project because it is so easy to make and the results are pretty fool proof. All you need to do is shred a head of cabbage and an onion and add salt, caraway seeds and dill to a mason jar, and cover with the method I outline below, and voilà!

Why add an onion to this recipe? Well-known fermentationist Summer Bock points out that raw onion is pre-biotic. Pre-biotic foods feed probiotic bacteria, so your lactofermentation process will be helped along by this prebiotic addition.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head green cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or pink Himalayan salt (using a non-iodized salt is important as iodine is a disinfectant and we don’t want to kill the good bacteria!)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • handful of fresh dill

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Directions

  1. Remove any wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into half and core it. Slice into thin ribbons.
  2. Peel your onion and cut it into thin slices as well.
  3. Add cabbage and onion ribbons to a large bowl.
  4. Add salt, caraway seeds and chopped dill to the mixture.
  5. Work the salt into the cabbage mixture with your hands, and you’ll notice that the water from the cabbage will start to extract from the cabbage. The salt is pulling the water out of the cabbage leaves and this will be your brine.
  6. Grab handfuls of the cabbage mixture and pack it tightly into the Ball jar (see photo). Using a wide-mouth Ball jar is helpful for this.
  7. Tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your hand. More brine will be pulled from the cabbage as you tamp the mixture down into the jar.
  8. Once the large Ball jar is full (leaving about an inch of space at the top) slip a smaller (4 ounce) jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with your hands to push the cabbage mixture all underneath the liquid brine. This will help keep the cabbage submerged beneath its liquid.
  9. Keep the smaller jelly jar pressing down your sauerkraut and cover the mouth of both jars with a cheese cloth or paper towel and secure it with a rubber band. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevents dust or insects from getting into the jar.
  10. You can keep your sauerkraut for up to 21 days in a cool, dark place or even in your  refrigerator. Best to keep the it away from direct sunlight and at room temperature for 2-3 weeks — ideally 65°F to 75°F — and then refrigerate once it tastes sour enough for you.
  11. If it ever smells rancid, discard it.
  12. Be sure everything stays beneath the brine line to keep bad bacteria out.
  13. After it’s sour enough for you, cover with an airtight lid and refrigerate.
  14. Enjoy!

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Simple Chimichurri Chicken

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This recipe is a very simple version of traditional chimichurri, and I like to use it when I pick up an organic rotisserie chicken on a busy evening and want to spruce it up.

After the chicken has cooled from its journey from store to home, or maybe it has even spent the night in the refrigerator, I carve it up, and I put the legs, breasts, and wings (skin on is my preference, but you can remove the skin) in a pot over medium heat.

Even though chimichurri is traditionally an uncooked sauce, I like to add mine to the meat in the last 10 minutes of cooking, generously brushing it on top of my chicken pieces. It is great if some of the chimichurri falls to the bottom of the pot so the garlic can become lightly toasted, which adds another layer of flavor.

This sauce is also great on beef, and I bet you could use it on mushrooms if you want a vegan chimichurri dish. Tonight, I am going to try it on roasted salmon.

Remember: if you are roasting your own meat or fish be sure to adequately season it with salt and pepper as this chimichurri preparation does not have seasoning.

If you like a little kick, don’t forget the dried crushed red pepper flakes, which is a key ingredient to add a yummy twist to chimichurri sauces.

Ingredients

  • A generous handful of fresh organic flat leaf parsley, stems removed
  • Half a handful of fresh organic cilantro, stems removed (The quantities of parsley and cilantro do not need to be precise, but you know you have the right proportion if you have about half the amount of cilantro as parsley. When finally chopped, the total amount of parsley and cilantro is about 3/4 cup.)
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Rinse your parsley, cilantro and finely chop it. Also mince your garlic cloves. You can use a food processor for this step, but I like to use a chef’s knife and to thoroughly chop everything.
  2. Add dried crushed red pepper flakes.
  3. Add olive oil and stir all ingredients to combine.
  4. Add to your meat during the last part of cooking or use as part of a marinade.
  5. If you want to use later, cover and refrigerate for up to one day.
  6. Enjoy!

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recipes

Homemade Vegetable Stock

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Exciting things are happening at Food and Hearth. I am going to be doing a lot of cooking and baking, and one of the upcoming recipes calls for vegetable stock.

Boxed stock works in a pinch, but the thing about homemade stock is that it is easy to make, it is vibrant and nutritious and will give your recipes a lot of depth and flavor. Handling organic vegetables and cooking them down to produce this liquid gold gives you and your cozy home a real lift.

I use vegetable stock for soups and to make rice, quinoa and lentils. My very favorite way to use broths and stocks however is to drink them straight from a mug. Just like herbal teas and raw vegetable juices, broths have their own special way of nourishing the body. Their main benefit is delivering minerals. If you are feeling under the weather — physically or emotionally — vegetable broth is good for the body and soul.

I don’t add salt to this stock on the front end, so be sure to salt your recipes when you’re using your broth. I like to use real salt which has flecks of color, versus the more processed version of table salt, which lacks mineral balance.

Ingredients

  • 2 organic yellow onions, keep papery peels on
  • 3 medium organic carrots
  • 4 organic celery stalks, keep leaves on
  • 2 organic leeks with dark green parts
  • 1 bunch organic parsley
  • 1 to 2 cups of organic mushrooms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • water

Directions

  1. Wash any visible dirt off the vegetables.
  2. Roughly chop veggies.
  3. Place vegetables in a pot big enough to hold them all easily.
  4. Fill your large pot with water, covering the vegetables by about one inch.
  5. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil (not a rolling boil).
  6. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover pot.
  7. Simmer for one hour, stirring the mixture periodically.
  8. Take the pot off the heat after about an hour.
  9. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon.
  10. Strain the broth with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
  11. Transfer to large Ball jars.
  12. Allow the broth to cool completely.
  13. Refrigerate or freeze.
  14. If refrigerated, use within one week. If freezing, use within one month.

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recipes

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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This chocolate zucchini bread is so delicious, it was almost gone between the time I took it out of the oven and the time I sat down to write the recipe. My kids gave it a big thumbs up.

If you are looking for a “veggies for breakfast” option, a healthy snack for after work or school, or even a dessert, this quick bread might do the trick.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (squeeze excess water out of the shredded zucchini)
  • 2 pasture-raised eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 tbsp grade b maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the almond butter, maple syrup and cacao powder and combine well.
  3. Add eggs and fold them in as well.
  4. Next, add vanilla, baking soda and salt.
  5. Over another small bowl, shred your zucchini until you have one full cup.
  6. Put shredded zucchini into a clean towel and squeeze out excess water.
  7. Add zucchini pulp to the mixture and stir.
  8. Place mixture in a lined or greased 5×9″ loaf pan (I greased my pan with coconut oil).
  9. Bake for 40 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center, it is done.
  10. Let sit for about 20 minutes before serving.
  11. Enjoy!

 

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Grain-Free Breaded Summer Squash

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Hello! This recipe is a take on the one I sent to Recipe of the Week subscribers last week, with almond meal and parmesan breading on chicken. Only this time, I used green zucchini and yellow squash, which are two varieties of summer squash. The category “summer squash” usually includes both green and yellow zucchinis and pattypan, zephyr and cousa squashes. You can use any type of summer squash for this dish.

Ingredients

2 pounds summer squash (I used 4 zucchinis and 1 yellow squash)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon real salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup almond meal

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  2. Remove the stem ends and slice the squash cross-wise in 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
  3. In a bowl, toss squash rounds with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange the squash rounds in an 8×8-inch rectangular baking dish or 10-inch pie dish.
  5. In another small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese and almond meal.
  6. Sprinkle the parmesan/almond meal mixture over the squash rounds.
  7. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and bake another five minutes.
  9. Switch to broil and broil until the top is crispy.
  10. Before serving, lightly mix squash rounds and crispy covering if desired.
  11. Enjoy!
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Grain-Free Breaded Chicken

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This recipe is delicious and easy. The breading can be used for fish and pork chops as well. You could even use it to bread vegetables if you want to experiment with vegetarian options. You’ll simply adjust cooking time according to what you are preparing! Enjoy.

Ingredients 
  • 2 organic chicken breasts with or without tenders
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond meal, hazelnut meal or I use this grain-free baking flour
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon real salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lightly beat the egg in a shallow dish and set aside.
  3. Make grain-free “breading” in another shallow dish by mixing almond meal or grain-free flour, parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper.
  4. Remove the tenders from the breasts if they are still attached.
  5. Heat a large oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the butter and oil and bring to a shimmer.
  7. Run each tender and breast through the egg to coat it thoroughly.
  8. Cover tenders and breasts in dry mixture, turning each over and covering them entirely with the breading mixture.
  9. Add the chicken breasts to the pan. Then add tenders to the pan.
  10. Cook each piece without turning until beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  11. Turn each piece and cook until equally brown on the other side, about 4-5 minutes more.
  12. Keep breasts and tenders in the sauté pan and place in the oven. Remove tenders after about 15 minutes, or until their internal temperature is 165F. Remove breasts after about 30 minutes, or until their internal temperature is 165F.
  13. Let sit for about 5 minutes and serve with a vegetable. Enjoy!
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Gluten-Free and Nut-Free Granola Bars

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These granola bars are so tasty and easy to make! They are inspired by a recipe from Sally of Real Mom Nutrition, but I have omitted flour and honey, and made a couple small edits to rebalance the recipe after my changes. They are still so very yummy, and my kids love them for breakfast, snacks or to take with them to school. They are nut-free which means they’re a great option if your child is in a nut-free classroom! Enjoy!

Dry ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned gluten-free oats
  • ½ cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon real salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line an 8×8 baking dish or pan with parchment paper.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Light beat eggs and then combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Then, combine dry and wet ingredients in the medium bowl and stir until fully combined.
  6. Pour batter into parchment-lined baking dish or pan and bake for 25-27 minutes.
  7. Gently lift bars out of dish/pan and move to a cooling rack. After cooling, slice into squares. It is great if you refrigerate them over night and cut into squares in the morning!
recipes

Blueberry Compote

 

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Are you looking for an alternative to maple syrup for your waffles and pancakes? This blueberry compote is easy, scrumptious and uses dates for a little extra sweetness.

Ingredients

  • 1 six-ounce container of organic blueberries, which is one regular small plastic container, rinsed and picked through to remove any broken or moldy ones
  • 2 medjool dates, soaked, peeled and pitted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons water

Directions

  • While you make your pancakes or waffles, soak dates in warm water to soften
  • Peel and pit the dates in order to use the soft flesh of the dates
  • Combine the blueberries, dates, vanilla and water in a small saucepan over medium heat
  • Use a wooden spoon to stir and gently break up the berries and dates as they soften and begin to pop.
  • Remove the pan from heat once the berries and dates turn into a thick sauce
  • Enjoy!

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