Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be a Friend...

...Give a hug.

It's amazing to me sometimes how some people just exude comfort to everyone they meet. I am so thankful for the kind words and actions of people that have been welcoming to my family since we've been back from Ghana. Thanks to good friends, we have been able to appreciate a little more, love a little more, and relax a little more.

Have you ever realized how relaxed you are around people who love you? It's part of that wonderful whateveryoucallit that just makes you laugh a little more, talk a little more, and overall feel a lot better about life.

After a good uplifting conversation with a friend, you go away feeling like you could take the world on your shoulders. After a time like that you think that so much more in the world is trivial and nothing could harm you. Because you have been refreshed and loved and cared for.

I have been with friends today that lost a loved one and after crying with them and giving them hugs, I felt like I had paid it forward, so to speak. It was really good to be able to do that and feel like we connected a little more.

It's easy to give love when you've been showered with it. Go show someone today how much you love them. Allow them to pass it on. The results are worth it!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Something I'll Miss

My daughter is now 2 1/2. I stopped breastfeeding her about a month ago now. The main reason I breastfed her this long is to have something to comfort her during our transatlantic flights back in August.

Those flights were actually uneventful as she never even had so much as a tummy ache or any ear trouble at all. It was still handy nonetheless to have a "snack" on hand. So when we had settled back in the states, I suddenly realized that I did not need to nurse her anymore.

After I tapered her nursings down to three a day, it wasn't long before it was two, then finally once per day. It was actually pretty easy to totally wean her. No trouble when we finally stopped altogether. She had the most tears when we went from three to two times per day, missing the midday one right before her nap. All in all, things went well.

But...I will miss it. I nursed my son (now 10) until he was almost 18 months old. With my daughter, I nursed her until she was about 30 months old. I definitely prefer nursing longer. With my new found nursing tool and experience this time around, I can't wait to have another to care for in the future in the same way.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cranberry Sauce

Like many others today, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a feast meal. The good part of cooking the meal for seven people was getting another great recipe to add to my favorites. So consider this next time you need to have a cranberry dish. It's easy and tastes great. If you use a raw sweetener this can be a truly raw dish as well.

Blender Cranberry Sauce


Combine in blender:

2 cups cranberries
1 peeled orange, seeded and quartered (I used a tangerine)
1 apple, cored and quartered
1/4 cup (or slightly more) "raw" turbinado sugar (or sweeten to taste with preferred sweetener)

Pulse in blender until fruits are chopped and blended well, but not too much. It will look like cranberry jam. Chill until ready to serve.

Edit to add: Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a free juicer here.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pomegranates


These beautiful little gems are called arils, the flesh covered seeds of the pomegranate fruit. This morning these went into our smoothies with some frozen strawberries for a vitamin C "zinger."

To open a pomegranate there are a couple of different ways:

1. "Like a star" click on this link from www.seasonalchef.com
or
2. "With water" click on this link from www.pomwonderful.com

They are a beautiful decoration in and on many foods. This time of year they are more readily available.

Please remember to protect your clothing as the juice will stain anything it touches. But please don't be afraid to try one. I opened mine using the aid of a bowl of water...see #2 above.

For a simple way to get the juice from the seeds, try putting them into a ziploc type baggie, taking the air out and seal well (!), then take a rolling pin and roll over the bag on a counter. Then cut a tiny hole in a bottom corner of the bag (so the seeds don't come out) and pour your juice into a cup or liquid measuring cup to proceed with recipes that call for the juice.

Catalina Dressing (Red French)

Every time I think about taco salad, I think of this dressing. I am posting this in honor of Betty, who introduced me to taco salad dressed with red French dressing, many years ago at church fellowship dinners. In fact, when I whipped this up the other day, taco salad was on the menu for lunch.


Catalina Salad Dressing



1/2 teaspoon dried onion granules
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup oil (I use extra virgin olive oil w/another mild oil)
1/2 cup ketchup (or some tomato paste w/water)
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch ground celery seed (optional)

Mix all ingredients by shaking in a pint jar or blending in a blender. Keep in the refrigerator.

For a great taco salad: combine lettuce (and/or other salad greens), chopped tomatoes, a little chopped onion and garlic, shredded carrots, and some cooked pinto beans (seasoned with cumin, chili powder, and a bit of oregano and basil), some crushed corn chips....oh, and don't forget the nutritional yeast... with this Catalina Salad Dressing....and you've got yourself some yummy taco salad. (Thanks, Betty!) =)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Peanut Butter Banana Chip Ice Cream

I love it when I can make a previous dairy treat into something without dairy! And who doesn't love a little ice cream now and then? I tell people I don't have a sweet tooth...and that would generally be true, but on occasion I do enjoy something like this with my family.

Add to that a few things... I recently came across an almost new ice cream maker (I know I have a Vitamix, but there's something about getting out the ice and salt to make it the "old fashioned" way) at a second hand store for only $2.50. It is a Sunbeam 6 quart capacity electric...ok, so not too old fashioned! =)... ice cream maker.

The other is a recipe on the Eating with Wisdom blog (thanks, Mindi) that struck my fancy. And I had everything to make it! Whoo-hooo! =) So, my friends, a vegan ice cream that you can make and it is delicious.

Peanut Butter Banana Chip Ice Cream


1 can (13-14 oz.) coconut milk or non-dairy milk/creamer
1/2 cup sucanat
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
3 bananas (divided use)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup grain sweetened carob/chocolate chips
optional: chopped peanuts

Blend 2 bananas, milk, sucanat, peanut butter, and vanilla in blender until smooth and sweetener is dissolved (uniformly distributed). Transfer to ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Add the third banana (chopped) with the chips about 5 minutes before the ice cream is done in the maker.
I used coconut milk and carob chips in our version. Nice and rich!

Kristen's (Almost Raw) Almond - Cacao Nibs Ice Cream

1 can (13-14 oz.) coconut milk
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 cup raw almond butter
3 bananas (divided use)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (or less) raw organic cacao nibs

Follow directions for Peanut Butter Banana Chip Ice Cream above.

One thing that really helps develop the flavor (especially the peanut butter version) is to "ripen" the ice cream in your refrigerator freezer (or deep freezer).

How to "Ripen" Homemade Ice Cream

This tip comes a day early for a non-dairy ice cream recipe I'll share tomorrow, but a tip nonetheless.

When making homemade ice cream, no matter how you make it, if you eat it immediately, it tends to be a little soft and runny. With some recipes, it tastes just fine that way. When you want to have hardened ice cream for that classic look or even to scoop for cones, you'll want to "ripen" the ice cream first.

All you need to do is to take your homemade ice cream and put it into a covered container in your refrigerator freezer (or deep freezer) for about an hour (or more for larger amounts) to harden. Depending on your ingredients, you may need to take it out for a few minutes before scooping.

This also helps to make strong flavors a bit more mild... Like the Peanut Butter Banana Chip Ice Cream recipe I'll share tomorrow!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Mother's Granola

For at least 20 years, my mother owned and operated a health food store. Though it is no longer around, this recipe for her granola was made many times to sell. I hope you enjoy it.


Ravae's Granola



Mix together:


4 1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup sunflower seeds*

1 cup coconut*

1 cup wheat germ*

1 cup slivered almonds or chopped pecans/walnuts*

1/2 cup sesame seeds*



Mix separately:

1/2 cup oil (I used sunflower)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Mix together dry and wet ingredients. Spread mixture onto two oiled (or use parchment paper) jelly roll pans (cookie sheets with sides) and bake at 300 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until done as desired. Stir every 15 minutes or so for even baking. After it has sufficiently cooled, put into airtight container.

Optional: After baking, you can add up to 1 cup of raisins/currants or chopped dates/apricots* stirring well to combine.

*Note: I always use raw, unsalted, unsweetened coconut, wheat germ, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
Photo: this batch of granola was made using chopped walnuts and raisins. I believe I also added a bit more rolled oats as well.