“Clean Cuisine” 7-layer salad, featuring Simply Organic Southwest taco mix.
Describing the way we eat today requires a complex lexicon of classifications: vegan, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian, flexivegan … and so on. What about phrases like “clean cuisine,” that don’t describe what we do and don’t eat, but point to our understanding of how food affects our bodies?
In their new book Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Program that Will Change the Way You Look, Age and Feel, authors Ivy Inghram Larson and Andrew Larson, M.D. share how their interpretation of clean eating has revolutionized their health, specifically through an anti-inflammatory diet. Continue reading
By Tom Havran
Fines herbes (feenz erbs) is a traditional French blend of delicately aromatic and flavorful herbs used to season subtly flavored dishes, such as eggs, buttery sauces, vegetables, chicken and fish. Gourmands prefer fines herbes made with fresh herbs, but you can salt dry fresh herbs to create an easily stored version with good flavor.
The classic fines herbes blend consists of tarragon, chervil, chives and parsley leaves. These herbs can be air-dried, but their constituents are so volatile and delicate that their unique flavors are largely lost into the air in the process. These same constituents are readily soluble into the fats and oils used in cooking — which is why they are preferred in their fresh form.
Fortunately, there is another way to capture some of fines herbes’ rare and elusive goodness. Salt-drying the fresh leaves will quickly desiccate the herbs and provide you with a delicately-seasoned salt to use long after the fresh herbs are no longer available. The addition of salt dramatically shortens the drying time, while the vast surface area of the crystals and their interlocking structure help to contain and fix the fugitive flavors of the fines herbes. Continue reading
If you have access to fresh, pesticide-free roses in your garden, use those!
By Tom Havran
I’m as fascinated by how the essences of aromatic plants are extracted as I am by the essences themselves. Distillation is equal parts magic, art and science, and when I learned how to do it for myself at home with herbs and flowers from my own garden, a world of learning, possibility and mystery materialized in the steam before me. You can experience the mystery too with the following technique for a stove-top distillation of your own essential oil/hydrosol rose mist.
Although you would need to distill hundreds of pounds of plant material to get an appreciable amount of pure essential oil, this method will readily yield a few drops of essential oil floating upon a few ounces of water-based hydrosol in perfect, ready-to-use proportions. Continue reading
By Katie Shatzer
Chia and I did not start off on the right foot. It turned out to be all my fault, but I was able to learn from my mistakes — and develop a long-term relationship with this ancient superfood.
I was first inspired to make my own creation by a decadent photo of pumpkin chia pudding. I set to work making my first chia recipe that combined the seeds and unmeasured amounts (unmeasured is the keyword here) of milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla and cinnamon in a Mason jar. I simply gave the concoction a shake and placed it in the fridge overnight.
What I awoke to the next morning was nothing like the original photo. Instead of a sweet, thick, pudding-like treat, I found a slimy, grayish-orange goop. I braved a few spoonfuls before considering it a loss.
One of the easiest ways to use chia is to simply sprinkle a tablespoon over your favorite dishes. Here, chia adds a bit of crunch to one of my favorite breakfasts: oatmeal topped with fresh berries, dried goji berries and walnuts!
But I didn’t give up on chia completely. I wanted our relationship to work. So I continued my patient experimentation — even taking some breaks from chia — until I fell in love and it became a staple for me. Now, I eat it almost everyday.
If you’re trying to incorporate a new food into your diet, here are five tips that helped me:
1. Do some research. Whether it’s chia or another new ingredient, chances are someone else has some great ideas for how to use it. Look for an overview like this one I turned to for chia. Continue reading
By Tom Havran
Late spring is elderflower season! The frothy white panicles of flowers are showing up in waysides, fencerows and wild areas all over the state. Get them while you can and savor their heady lychee/pear/peach aroma and flavor. If you miss the elderflowers, don’t despair — the berries are soon to follow.
You should only eat the flowers and berries of elder plants.
Forage for flowers and berries only in natural areas, ask landowner permission and make sure the area has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. (Note: You should not eat elder stems and leaves.)
Below are a few of my favorite elderflower and elderberry recipes. Enjoy! Continue reading
By Katie Shatzer
This month, we pulled out the grill and began to embrace the flavors of summer. From that slight char on a burger to the crunch of fresh zucchini, summer food is about savoring the moment. And that’s my goal for this summer in general — slow down, appreciate the moment and eat some good food.
Find some inspiration in the summer recipe ideas and relaxation tips in our May web finds:
- If you enjoy a good burger (made with grass-fed, hormone-free beef, of course), it’s hard to beat one cooked on the grill. Topped with cheese. And bacon. Need I say more to convince you that these Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pub Burgers from simply scratch are a good idea?
- For the vegan crowd (or really, any crowd — who says meat-eaters and vegans can’t enjoy the same good recipe), we have a solution to the woeful summer problem of over-producing zucchini plants. Try using them in place of taco shells, as in this stuffed zucchini recipe from We Heart Vegan.
Photo courtesy of We Heart Vegan
Since no Cinco de Mayo party is complete without fresh guacamole, you probably carefully selected the perfect avocados during your pre-party shopping trip days ago. But, what if the day before before your party, you discover that, despite a few days of relaxing on your countertop, your avocados remain rock-hard, unlikely to be easily mashed into your favorite flavorful dip?
Not to worry! We’ve researched how to ripen an avocado quickly — and added other must-know facts about avocados here:
There are close to 500 varieties of avocados.
Avocados are actually fruits, and are often eaten with sugar or as an ice cream flavor for dessert in Brazil.
An avocado ripens in 5 stages, from light green to ripe. Keep these in mind when you choose your avocado at the store. Continue reading
Good Colorado sauce begins with your dried chili peppers.
By Tom Havran
Overused words like “authentic,” “traditional” and “real” are proffered like bottomless bowls of genetically modified corn chips and watery salsa to describe the corporatized Mexican food that is so sadly pervasive in America these days. (I weep for what Taco Bell has done to Mexican food.)
For your Cinco de Mayo party this year, honor the true culinary spirit of Mexico by making Colorado sauce. My recipe below employs native ingredients with a simple method that will lend Mexican flavors and aromas to an endless array of dishes – from enchiladas to rice and beans.
Of all cuisines, Mexican is my favorite (which is why I’ve made Colorado sauce on countless occasions), and at no other time of the year does it seem less honored or more insulted than when it’s hijacked as part of the Americanized take on Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Every May 5th, we don our cheap sombreros, fake “bandito” mustaches and gather at the local “Mexican” eatery to get boozily obnoxious on overly sweet margaritas, canned beans and gallons of oozing Colby Jack cheese. The people of Mexico, their culture and the food they have given the world deserve a lot more respect. Continue reading
By Tom Havran
My organic living “Aha!” moment was when I experienced the difference between real, farm-fresh eggs and those from factory farm, caged hens.
The chicken coop from my childhood still stands at my parents’ Iowa farm today.
Me at age 9
Around 1971, at age 9 or so, my first set of chores was to tend a flock of laying hens (leghorns) in the ramshackle chicken coop on the farm that I grew up on. I remember their snowy white feathers, bright yellow legs and jiggling red combs as they scurried and scratched about around my legs. This, my first lesson in taking responsibility consisted of many tasks: feeding and watering the birds, cleaning and changing their bedding, gathering and washing the eggs. Continue reading
By Alan Miles
Our kids had some strongly held convictions about their food when they were young — convictions that made good nutrition a challenge.
Our oldest girl wanted only melted cheese carefully removed from casseroles, pizza and the like, making sure that none of the other ingredients were attached. Our son would eat nothing that was green, yellow or orange (and there aren’t a lot of blue vegetables). The middle daughter decided she wouldn’t even try anything she didn’t already like — at age three. And the youngest took all the peculiarities of her siblings to heart and made “yucky” one of her first words.
We leveraged nutrition into this crazy quilt of food preferences using these three healthy tips for picky eaters:
1. Subversion: We would sneak in “fortifiers” to boost the nutritional value of the few foods the kids liked. Wheat germ was mixed into the universally palatable mac and cheese to add vitamins and minerals. Pinches of nutritional yeast added B vitamins, protein and iron to popcorn and smoothies. As a special treat, we added a little molasses to warm milk, and it was soon a favorite. By making our own yogurt, we reduced the sweetener used to only fresh fruit. And gradually, with some resistance, we converted all pasta to whole grain.
2. Gamesmanship: We provided motivation while introducing elementary nutritional concepts as well. I’ve read that the average American elementary-age kid receives about 3.4 hours of food–related education per year — less than the amount of TV most of them watch each day. (Source: http://visual.ly/bring-food-education-back)
To teach our kids about healthy eating, we created a simple chart with color-in spoons to mark the servings of each kind of food eaten and called it a Good Eating Plate. Each kid had a chart that looked something like this:
An example of a typical “Good Eating Plate” — one of my best healthy tips for picky eaters.