Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pork and Beans gets a Makeover

BBQ... America loves it.  And what's our favorite side dish?  Why pork and beans, of course.

Many of us eat pork and beans right out of the can, or perhaps even a gussied-up canned version. And that's probably exactly what you get, even in many restaurants.  Let's face it, even though we may like them, canned pork and beans has some ingredients that are, well, not the best for our health.

But pork and beans does contain at least one ultra-healthy food-- beans--which makes it a potentially healthy dish.  We thought it would be worth tweaking this beloved American favorite to up the health factor and lower the processed food factor.  Out with the bad and in the with the great tasting, good-for-your body, inflammation-fighting, healthy stuff.

Actually, it's not the can that's the enemy.  In fact, for convenience, this recipe remake starts with canned white beans*. The enemy is the preservatives, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates and pesticides you find in the ready-made canned pork and beans.  So here's our cleaned up version, and by the way, it tastes great.

*If you're a purist and have the time, you could certainly start totally from scratch and make your white beans from dry beans.

Pork and Beans

2 16 ounce cans organic white beans (or make your own from dry beans)
1 T Dijon
1/4 t turmeric
1 t apple cider vinegar
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 c homemade ketchup see here
2 T coconut palm sugar
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 small-medium organic onion chopped medium fine
1/2 organic green bell pepper chopped fine
6 slices nitrate and antibiotic free uncured bacon  (or, if  you can used uncured organic turkey bacon with no nitrates, but it real pork bacon tastes better!)

Rinse the beans thoroughly, drain them and put them in a dutch oven or pyrex dish.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the bacon, to the beans and mix together.  If you want your beans to be extra saucy, add more catsup and worcestershire.  Place the bacon strips over the beans in a basketweave pattern (see photo).  Bake the beans at 400 degrees for an hour.  If the bacon looks like it needs a little more browning, put the oven on broil and leave the pan in for another 5 minutes.  Do not overcook or the beans will become dry.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Saffron and Squirrels

I've become a squirrel.  From where I sit at my computer, I look out my upstairs window into the branches of a mature pine tree filled with charming Sierra squirrels.  I watch all late summer and fall as they work busily, collecting their winter stash and hiding this treasures throughout my garden, digging in my beds and pots, uprooting my summer annuals in order to stuff in their little hoards.  I always wonder if they'll ever really remember to come back later to collect up whatever it is they've cached away.

And so it is with me, the squirrel.  I've discovered forgotten treasure.  

This week I've been cleaning the top shelf in my spice cabinet.  Yes, I have actually devoted the entire cabinet next to my stove to spices.  They are all on graduated racks and alphabetized.  I admit this sounds a little crazy, but I'm not obsessively organized anywhere else in my life,  I'm just a cook. After all, your cooking is only as good as your ingredients and if you can't find what you need, you might as well not have it.  

So I keep my spices perfectly tidy.  At least, all except the top shelf.  Up there, where I can't reach or see, is where I stow my hoard...apparently.

In my cleaning I reached back into the dark corners of the shelf and retrieved out a long ignored large plastic jar with a screw top lid.  Oops, was my immediate thought the moment I saw it. 

My sister travelled to Egypt a few years ago and brought me back a collection of wonderful fresh spices including lots of beautiful saffron.  She generously brought me a quantity of saffron that seemed like an impossible luxury. An indulgent large baggy full.  I remember at the time thinking how wonderful it will be to lavish it heavily into soups, stews and everyday meals. But somehow this treasure got stuffed into the back of the cabinet where it has remained ever since. I'm ashamed--what kind of a cook does this?

I found five bags of saffron just like this one!

How often in life do we save our best and ultimately never get to use it.  I feel just like that great old auntie who dies never using her wedding china because she was always saving it for "good".  Don't we deserve the best in our everyday lives? 

Well, I may be late to the party, but I sure won't let my self miss it.  I'm cooking with saffron now!  

So here is my recipe for...

Saffron Shrimp and Chickpea Soup

olive oil
2 sweet onions chopped
2 cups celery chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 32 oz box organic chicken broth
several pinches of saffron as affordable (the more the better!)
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried oregano
1/4 t fennel seeds
1/4 t celery seeds
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t ground coriander
generous freshly ground quality sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
new potatoes  about 10 small potatoes cut in halves or quarters
4 big handfuls of kale
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 lb frozen shelled shrimp

Get out a soup pot and pour several tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom, bringing the heat to medium.  Saute the onions and celery until translucent.  Add the broth, garlic, saffron, thyme, oregano, fennel celery turmeric, coriander, salt, pepper and potatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add the kale and garbanzo beans and cook for another 10 minutes.  When the potatoes are tender, add the shrimp and cook until pink and done.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What are you going to put your hummus on?

Unfortunately, if your diet is paleo, low carb, gluten-free or anti-inflammation, you might be finding it difficult to find good cracker options.

Problem solved.  This is a really good homemade cracker.  But most importantly, it has something that a lot of "paleo" and gluten-free crackers don't.  It's been carefully crafted to have special healing factors.  We've added two seed meals, one spice and three herbs that are highly anti-inflammatory.

Fresh rosemary!

And yet, did I say, that this is a really good homemade cracker?  Really, really good?

Inflammation is at the root of many of the diseases plaguing us modern folk (see the blue box below for a list of diseases linked to inflammation).  Plus, who wants to live an inflamed life anyway?  Puffy, overweight, brain-fogged, tired and unhealthy?  Not for us!
By the way, eczema is an inflammatory disease.   If you're working to heal eczema, you'll want to see the EatRx Healing Guide to Eczema.  In addition to everything you could possibly ever want to know about eczema (and a bunch of stuff your doctor simply does not have time to explain to you), it has our anti-inflammation diet plus our list of Top 40 Anti-inflammatory foods and our list of Top 40 Anti-eczema foods. These are lists created by our Deep Web search engine, RxExplorer, which has been creating a cutting-edge library of information on phytonutrients.  
Anyway, if you have fresh herbs, all the better.  I used fresh rosemary and oregano, but dried thyme, only because I live in the mountains and the weather just hasn't been quite warm enough yet to get my thyme up and happy.  My rosemary plant came indoors for the winter.  Poor thing, I pinch so much anti-inflammation rosemary off each week that it has a hard time keeping up with the demand.

One last thought...if you eat paleo or low carb, you may sometimes miss that full belly carb feel. These crackers are a way to fill up your tummy and get that feeling without piling up the carb count. They are low carb but they taste and feel like carbs, sort of low carb carbs, if you get my meaning.

Sunflower, Pepita and Rosemary Crackers

On a gluten-free diet, where are you going to put that hummus? Right here on a crispy delicious rosemary and seed cracker. We've optimized this recipe with anti-inflammatory herbs, cracked black pepper and anti-eczema seeds.

dry ingredients:
1 c almond meal
1/4-1/3 c coconut flour*
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c pepita pumpkin seeds
2 t arrowroot
1 t freshly ground sea salt**
1 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper**
1 T  fresh rosemary chopped fine
1/2 t dried thyme or 1 t fresh chopped fine
1/2 t dried oregano or 1 t fresh chopped fine

wet ingredients:
3 T olive oil
2 eggs from pasture-raised chickens whisked

Grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil and eggs and stir all ingredients together.

Place the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out with a rolling pin to about 1/8" thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper, and using a pizza-cutting wheel, cut the dough into cracker shapes. Move the parchment paper with crackers intact onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

*We find that the amount of absorbency varies from brand to brand with coconut flour. Start with the lower amount and add more if your dough is too sticky.

**Tip:  Do grind your own high quality sea salt and black pepper.  This is what gives the crackers their pizazz!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Sugar-free Remake for Ketchup

If you're careful about your health, you may be watching your sugar intake. Of course, that does not mean that you would prefer to eat boring foods.

We've worked hard to develop healing recipes that are also delicious tasting. And when it comes to American staples, we are always working on developing gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy free versions that taste as closely as possible to the original.

We're especially concerned about kids on restricted diets, like kids with diabetes or kids with eczema. We want them to feel like they have normal lives. Everybody should be able to eat a hamburger with the rest of the crowd.

So, here's our recipe for ketchup. We think you'll find it tastes pretty much like the real thing but without the sugar, preservatives and chemicals.  And, by the way, we've tossed in a number of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to up the healing factor for everyone.

Homemade Sugar-free Ketchup

6 oz tomato paste organic
15 oz can tomato sauce organic
15 oz can filled with  water
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
1/3 c onion chopped
1 T Coconut Nectar
1 t stevia
1 T ginger chopped fine
1/8 t fennel seeds
1/8 t celery seeds
1/8 t coriander ground
dash cloves
1 t sea salt
1/2 t ground pepper to taste

Bring all the ingredients to a slow simmer in pot.  Continue to simmer for 20 minutes. When the onions and ginger are softened, run the ketchup through a blender or food processor to puree. Keep the ketchup in the refrigerator.  If ketchup is too thick, add a little water for proper consistency.

Okay--so that's your version for kids and it pretty well mimics store-bought ketchup brands.  If you want a spicier version, add 2 T lemon juice, an additional 2 t pepper and 4 tiny pinches of cayenne to the recipe. Let's see if that livens up your evening!  (I actually split the batch in half and bottled up each of the two versions, one regular and one "lively".)  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Gluten-free zucchini pancakes that are more than yummy... they help you fight eczema, too.

I love zucchini pancakes but I'm learning to look at food as medicine.  There's so much more going on in that innocent squash than most of us ever stop and think about.

Zucchini and Phytonutrients--  Recently, our brand new phytonutrient data library at EatRx has been coming together and we think it's kinda mind-blowing!  We are developing the world's largest biochemical and molecular library. We've just completed a major input and search for phytonutrient information which, up until now, has been scattered throughout the web and in partial collections in ethno botanical reference books around the world.

We've collected massive amounts of phytonutrient data,  We now have detailed information on over 2400 plants, such as zucchini (these plants are all edible or can be used for other healing purposes).  We know which among over 7500 phytonutrients they each contain, and what the activities of those phytonutrients are. Examples of nutrient activities are thing like anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-hypertensive, etc. There are over 1000 catalogued activities and most phytonutrients have between 50 and 100 different activities, many of which are healing for the human body.  It's a real WOW.

How this helps you fight eczema--  This new library is allowing us to do some really exciting things. One of those, is that we've created a list of eczema healing foods. In our new eczema report, we've listed the Top 40 Foods that contain phytonutrients with anti-eczema properties.  Zucchini is a food from that Top 40 list.  (If you're interested in learning about our eczema report, available now,  click here.)  There are some surprising foods in this Top 40 list but the number one food is the biggest surprise of all--my lips are sealed...if you want to know, go see the report.

For all you gardeners, here's a new way to look at those monster zucchini crops you end up with each've got yourself a powerful eczema healer.  Who knew?

By the way, we also have developed a list of the Top 40 Anti-Inflammation Foods. Every food on this list has between 19 and 37 phytonutrients with anti-inflammation activities. This is not the list you're used to seeing. You won't see pomegranate, acai berries and kale. This list is built on science, fact and complex computer algorithms. No nutritionist or doctor could build it, even with a powerful computer and a big staff. It has literally taken years of work to develop RxExplorer, the EatRx Deep Web search engine, which is capable of collecting, sorting and matching data on this level.
The Top 40 Anti-Inflammation list is making me completely change the way I look at cooking. Since inflammation is the source of most of the world's diseases, it's really something everyone should see. Our anti-inflammation report will be available in a few weeks.
Now, about those pancakes--  I've always really loved zucchini pancakes.  They taste great and they are easy to make. I like that they work for breakfast, but are also great for any meal.  And, of course, now I love how healing they really are.

For breakfast, just top them up with some sugar-free jam, smashed berries or homemade applesauce. You can also make a raspberry sauce by pureeing fresh raspberries, running them through a strainer and then sweetening them with a little stevia or Coconut Nectar.

Zucchini pancakes are also delicious savory for lunch or dinner. For lunch, they can be the main show with a salad on the side.  For dinner, they make a great side dish.

2 zucchini grated
3 eggs whisked
1-3 T coconut flour (as needed to soak up extra liquid)
sea salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 dried thyme
1/4 dried marjoram
coconut oil

Optional: fine chopped onions or shallots (nice with savory pancakes you might serve for lunch or dinner)

Note:  You can allow the grated zucchini to sit for a while in a bowl or colander and then drain away the extra liquid that collects.  But, if you're making these for breakfast and time is short, just add in coconut flour until the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Start with 1 T and add more as needed.  You may find that if you are cooking the pancakes in batches, you need to add more flour between batches.

Mix together all the ingredients except the coconut oil.   In a large frying pan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Drop the pancake batter into the pan in spoonfuls of about 3-4" in diameter.

Allow the bottoms to cook and get golden.  Then flip the pancakes to the other side.  When both sides are golden and interiors are cooked through, remove the pancakes and serve.