Radical-Robust-Ranch Dressing

Yesterday was a big day in our family… I spent the day with my Mother-In-Law, doing a “Healthy Kitchen Makeover!” Hip Hip Horrrrray! The day finally came!!! I don’t know anyone who has a kitchen that is 100% healthy and our house is no exception – we all have some room for improvement. However, to say this as kindly as possible – their kitchen had LOTS of room for improvement!

My father-in-law has Spinocerebellar Ataxia, it’s a degenerative disease where abnormal protein cells are attacking his cerebellum and spinal cord. As the disease progresses, muscles become less and less responsive to commands from the brain, causing coordination problems to become more pronounced. There are many types of Spinocerebellar Ataxia and unfortunately his neurologist hasn’t been able to diagnose the specific type he is suffering from, yet has determined that there is no cure for him. The typical allopathic medical treatment to lessen the symptoms with pharmaceuticals have proven ineffective to stop or slow the progress. I have found compelling information regarding a connection between wheat gluten consumption and Spinocerebellar Ataxia… Complete gluten elimination has shown in some cases to slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of degeneration of the cerebellum. Although there is no “medical” support for this diet as treatment, my in-laws have decided to give a 100% gluten free diet a 6 month trial to see if there is any benefit. Gluten Free diets take a complete dedication and every thing in your house needs reviewed for potential gluten content or contamination (it’s not just food sources, gluten can also be present in shampoos, lotions, etc) We also cleaned out all the other foods that contained unhealthy processed ingredients while we were at it.. then made a trip to the grocery store to get gluten free foods! In my opinion, the biggest mistake people make when eliminating gluten from their diet, is buying up all the boxed-processed GF foods. Just because a company is marketing their product as Gluten Free doesn’t make it healthy, it’s still really important to closely review the ingredients. It’s imperative to replace gluten calories in your daily diet with additional nutrient dense veggies, protein, fats and fruits – just ignore the replacement products completely outside of special occasions!  (and I haven’t said anything publicly, but I’ve been Gluten Free myself since the first of the year.. as an experiment to see how my body reacts sans-gluten… so far so good… I’m sticking with it!)

When the clean-out was done and we were making a shopping list, I asked my father-in-law what kind of salad dressing he wanted – I was surprised that he responded “Ranch” always being an oil/vinegar guy… What a great opportunity for me to create a healthy and Radical-Robust-Ranch dressing, completely Gluten Free too! We all decided that it’s not exactly the ranch dressing we’ve had before, but it’s really good!

Today, of course, I had to make some for our dinner at home!!  I took a few extra minutes to put together a recipe to share with you, too! I hope you like it as much as we do and feel free to experiment with herbs and seasoning combinations to make this dressing unique to your family’s tastes!

1 Small clove Organic Garlic
1/2 c Homemade Mayo
1/2 c Nancy’s Organic Cultured Sour Cream (www.nancysyogurt.com)
1 t Dried Organic Parsley
1 t Dried Organic Chives
1 t Dried Organic Dill
1 t Organic Ground Black Pepper
1 t Organic Onion Powder
1t Finely ground Celtic Sea Salt
1/2 t Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 t Worcestershire Sauce
*Organic Raw Whole Milk (www.yourfamilycow.com)


Using a microplane grater, finely grate the garlic clove into a medium bowl and combine with all the other ingredients, add the milk last, thinning the dressing to your desired consistency. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to combine.

You can use fresh herbs if you have them available, generally 1t dried herbs = 1T fresh chopped herbs.

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Grilled Chicken Breast with Sauteed Greens, topped with a Poached Egg and Hollandaise

Yesterday, my only niece Caitlyn, came to visit… It feels like we’ve become strangers and I was really excited to spend some time with her. Caitlyn is in her 2nd semester at Penn State Fayette and although she’s still technically “at home” she’s started her own life … as happy as I am to see her growing up into an amazing adult, I still really-really miss the fun times we shared while she was growing up. Even my hubby, Ray, just mentioned last night that he really misses her, wishes she could still come over and hang out, spend the weekend, eat cook-n-serve,  just like when she was little. But time passes and we all grow up..

I am an only child with a very small family and I was raised as a little adult. The first “little” kids I ever spent time with was Caitlyn and her older brother Joey (Ray’s sister Tammy’s kids – now my niece and nephew)… I was so intimidated and they were so pushy 🙂 When Ray and I first started dating, we both lived at home and I stayed with him at his parents over the weekends (we lived an hour away from each other).. Ray had nice TV room in the basement where we would spend most of our time.. I remember the first time Caitlyn and Joey called on Ray’s phone line to ask if they could come downstairs to visit me, Ray was hunting or something and I was there by myself.. of course I said “Sure!” but remember thinking what on earth am I going to do with them! What will we talk about? Oh No! They made it easy on me, they have welcomed me into their family with open arms and made me feel so welcome. I fell in love with them immediately…. That was 12 years ago.. Oh, how time flies!

Of course, I always feed Caitlyn… it’s really kinda our special thing we’ve been doing over the years.. the little girl who I argued with to try a sweet red bell pepper strip – is now very open to my super-healthy foods! However, I’m also too lazy to go to the grocery store – I convinced myself that I could whip something wonderful up from what we have here at the house (and we are running very low on groceries at this point!) But I always have some quality go-to staples that easily become a meal.. Eggs and butter… and our own garden veggies in the freezer….  Lunch is created…

Chicken Breast with Sauteed Greens, topped with a Poached Egg and Hollandaise
Serves: 2 for a light meal

1 Free Range Chicken Breast
Organic Greens
1/2 Large Organic Onion
2 Cloves Organic Garlic
1/2 Organic Lemon
1-2 T Coconut Oil
6 Free Range Eggs
1/2 cup melted Organic Butter from Grass Fed Cows (www.yourfamilycow.com)
1 T Distilled White Vinegar
Salt, Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper….

Season the chicken breast, lightly tenderize if desired, and grill (outdoor or indoor grill pan) Remove your chicken just before it’s completely cooked and allow it to rest while preparing the rest of your meal…nothing is worse than overcooked-dry-chicken breast!

Sautee the chopped/pressed garlic and chopped onions in coconut oil, add greens. I used a baggie of frozen greens from last year’s garden (cleaned, chopped, blanched, froze) I don’t know exactly how much greens I used 😦 It was about 1 1/2 cups cooked greens/onions/garlic when I was done cooking, adjust accordingly. Season to taste with Salt, Pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.. Juice 1/2 a lemon, use about 1t on the greens.. reserve the rest of the lemon juice for the Hollandaise sauce. Keep your greens on very low..

Fill a large straight sided skillet with water to poach your eggs, add 1T vinegar, heat water to a very light simmer..

Assemble a double boiler – a glass bowl seated on top of a pot of simmering water for your hollandaise. Make sure the butter is melted and very warm. Separate 4 eggs, reserve the whites for later.

Ok – my time management is pretty good at this point, so follow this closely..

Thinly slice chicken breast, set aside..

Crack 2 eggs, each into a separate small bowl.. gently swirl water in the simmering water in the straight sided skillet.. gently pour the eggs into the center of the pan – one at a time – swirling the water after each addition – and set your times for exactly 3 minutes for a cooked-yet runny poached egg..

Quickly – Combine the 4 egg yokes and 1 T of lemon juice in the bowl  of the double boiler and wisk well.. slowly drizzle in the melted butter.. constantly wisking.. it will become a paler yellow and thicken… remove the bowl from the pot.. You may add additional lemon juice to taste, Salt, Pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Use Hot water to thin the sauce if it gets too thick…

Using a slotted spoon very gently remove each egg from the water and place on a small plate to drain while assembling the plates.. Mound 1/2 of the greens on each plate, then thin slices of chicken breast, then a poached egg.. and top with hollandaise sauce!

Super Yummy! and all amazing healthy foods.. and gluten free!

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Best Beef Chuck Roast

One of the first meals that I perfected as a young cook was an exceptional Beef Roast. I can’t take full credit for it alone, it’s the same beef roast my mom always made when I was growing up. Of course over the years I’ve made a few little modifications to make it my own version!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 6+ hours

Beef Chuck Roast (Organic, grass fed from the http://www.yourfamilycow.com)
1 head of organic garlic (about 10 cloves) chopped finely
1 XL yellow organic onion, quartered and thinly sliced
Sea Salt and Pepper
2 T Coconut Oil
Water
Optional Additions: Organic Potatoes, peeled and halved and Organic Carrots, peeled and chunked

Over medium/high heat, brown both sides of your chuck roast (seasoned liberally with salt and pepper) in coconut oil. Remove browned roast and place in crock pot, cover roast with garlic and onion. Add about 1 quart water to the pot you browned the roast in and return to the stove, scrape the bottom of the pan to get up all the browned bits, then add the water to the crock pot to cover the roast/onion/garlic.

You cannot rush this roast! It’s the slow and low cooking that makes it so amazingly tender and full of flavor. I always plan to allow it to cook for a minimum of 8 hours, but have let it cook for much longer – it only gets better with longer cooking times (just make sure you have adequate liquid, you can add more water as needed) It’s great to start it cooking in the morning before work, cook it on low all day, not only will you have dinner waiting when you get home, but your house will smell great too! Throw in carrots and potatoes, if desired, about an hour before you want to eat and turn the heat up to high. You can also choose to make this roast in your oven instead of the crock pot, after browning the roast just throw everything else into the pot with the roast and bake at 350 degrees (oven proof pot of course with lid or foil).

Today, I woke up at 6:50 am, by 7:15 my roast was in the crock pot and I was already typing in the ingredient list. I started the crock pot on high (since I’ll be home watching it all day) after about an hour I turned it down to low. I tossed in a couple potatoes and carrots at 2 pm and turned the heat up to high by 3 pm the potatoes and carrots were nice and tender!

Hayley's dinner tonight... Best Beef Chuck Roast, Potatoes and Carrots, served with Buttered Brussel Sprouts and a Caesar Salad!

Ray and I just finished our dinner, it was amazing!  Now, it’s time for some Steeler Football… Here We Go Steelers, HERE  WE  GO!

PS – This is a double duty meal.. not just an incredible beef chuck roast but the broth left over is super-duper healthy bone broth infused with lots of onion and garlic goodness! I love to serve the leftover broth like french onion soup.. ladling broth and lots of onions into an oven proof bowl, top with cheese and broil! (you can add in toasted bread cubes too, if you’re into that sorta thing)

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Hayley’s Healthy Mayonnaise

One of the few foods that I’ve struggled to give up over the past few years is store bought, name brand, mayonnaise. Take a look at the list of ingredients on the back of the jar, Soybean Oil, Water, Whole eggs and egg yokes, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice, calcium disodium edta (used to protect quality), natural flavors. Whoa! See that first item on the list? Soybean Oil – that’s a huge NO-NO! Not only is it dangerous SOY it’s a GMO! Did you know that nearly all soy in our food is a GMO? Then move on to the third item, Eggs.. I just can’t bear the thought of consuming eggs from those poor factory hens, all squished in tiny cages, never seeing the sun or pecking in the grass! As if the animal-abuse factor isn’t enough, studies have shown that factory farm produced eggs are inferior nutritionally to eggs produced the way nature intended from free ranging, happy hens! And that’s just 2 of the 9 ingredients, there is no need to go on through the list, you get it… store bought mayonnaise will get you closer to the grave, so let’s come up with an alternative!

I’ve tried to make mayonnaise from scratch but failed in the taste area…. Finally! I came up with a recipe that is healthier, tastes amazing (possibly tastes better than what we had been buying) and it is really-really simple!

Supplies:
Bowl
Wisk
Measuring spoons

Ingredients:
1 small free range organic egg yoke (reserve the white for another use)
2 & 1/4 t white vinegar
1 t water
1/4 t fresh organic lemon juice
sea salt
1/4 t honey
Organic Sunflower Oil

Wisk the egg yoke until it’s frothy then add in vinegar, water, lemon juice, honey and about 3 tiny pinches of sea salt. Continue to wisk until everything is well incorporated. Gently and Slowly drizzle in a thin steady stream of oil, while constantly wisking. Less oil will be runnier mayo, more oil will be thicker oil – you can choose based on your preference… also try different oils or combination of oils.
Will make about 1 cup of mayonnaise, use it up within a week!

Oh, yeah there’s raw eggs in this mayo, just like mayo should… and I love it! Here’s my thoughts on raw eggs.. when you buy your quality free range eggs from a responsible and trustworthy farmer you have no reason to worry.  In case you didn’t know we raise our own Happy Hens, so we have complete control over our egg supply but there are amazing farmers offering quality eggs close to you too! If you need help finding a local-quality source of free range eggs, I’m more than glad to help!

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Homemade Honey-Vanilla Yogurt

Homemade Honey Vanilla Yogurt with 2011 Wild Picked Black Raspberries!

Today, Olivia and I made homemade yogurt, this year we’re committed to getting more beneficial bacteria into our daily diet. Specifically, we are trying to find ways to incorporate healthy raw dairy into Luke’s diet (Luke is Olivia’s husband).

Making yogurt at home is not complicated nor time consuming, it is really very easy!

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Total Time, including incubation: 5 & 1/2 to 24 hours

Supplies:
8 – 1/2 pint jelly canning jars with lids
Crock pot (that will hold all 8 jelly jars)
5 quart (or larger) pot with lid
Ladle/spoon
Canning funnel
Candy or cheese making thermometer

Ingredients:
1/2 Gallon Organic Raw Milk
2 packs of Yogourmet (or yogurt starter culture of your choice)
2 teaspoons Organic Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Local Honey

Over medium heat bring 1/2 gallon of milk to 120 degrees, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, add honey and vanilla, mix well to incorporate. Again, over medium heat, bring milk mixture to 185 degrees, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover pot with lid and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Place covered pot of milk mixture into kitchen sick (with drain stopper in place) add cold water 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pot, cooling mixture to 110 degrees, remove from water bath. Combine 1/2 cup of the cooled milk mixture with 2 packs of Yogourmet, make sure culture is fully dissolved, then add back into the pot, stir very well.

Using a ladle and canning funnel, fill jars and cover with lids. Place the jars in your crock pot and fill 1/2 way up the sides of the filled jars with warm water (about 100 degrees). Put lid on crock pot and incubate yogurt on the warm setting – occasionally check the temperature of the water in your crock pot, it needs to stay between 100 and 125 degrees. You can turn off your crock pot (wrap with a bath towel for insulation) if it’s getting too warm.

Depending on desired taste and consistency, your yogurt will need to incubate in your crock pot a minimum of 5 hours up to 24 hours (at low temperature incubation) I have found that 10 hours yields a flavor I like best. Keep in mind that your yogurt will thicken and deepen in flavor after it is cooled in the refrigerator.

It’s really important to not let your yogurt incubate at temperatures over 130 degrees, it will kill the culture. If you need to leave your yogurt incubating unattended (over night, at work, etc) bring crock pot water to 125 degrees, insulate by wrapping with a bath towel, and turn off crock pot. At lower temperatures your yogurt will incubate slower, but a safer method.

Personally, we love the portability of the individual 1 cup serving size jelly jars filled with yogurt.
I toss a few frozen berries into the yogurt jar in the morning and then take with me for lunch, maybe take along a a little granola to mix in too!

Remember to reserve about 1/4 cup of your homemade yogurt to use as your starter culture for your next batch!

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Pork-N-Kraut and New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the first day of 2012 and I’m proudly launching my Hayley’s Healthy Home Blog! I’m really excited to now be sharing my life in a more lengthy format.

Most people start the new year with a list of resolutions… And I’m no exception.
But my resolutions are unique, i never consciously stated them or begun them on a new years day. It’s just all the little changes we made, they’ve added up, expanded, and grew over time.

In 2012 I resolve to keep going on the journey I’ve started, to be further along by 1/1/13. This blog is a way that I want to help guide my friends on their journeys, help them map out a course and gain more insight of the importance of a healthy life. I want people to understand the Why behind our choices in life and hope to encourage them to start making positive healthy changes. If you ever need help, guidance or a shoulder to lean on, don’t hesitate to ask.

Now on to the important stuff…

Hayley’s Healthy New Year’s Day Pork-N-Kraut!

Supplies:
Pressure Cooker with rack
Knife, Tongs, Spatula, etc..

Ingredients:
Pork Shoulder Roast
Seasonings to your taste (Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, etc)
2 T Fat (Lard, Tallow, butter, or coconut oil)
1 large Onion
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or chopped finely
1 to 2 qrts of Saurkraut
1 Pack of Hot Dogs
Water

Season your pork roast (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder) and in your pressure cooker pot – brown it on all sides in fat. Saute onion and garlic until soft then put your pork roast on your pressure cooker rack and add water 1/4 of the way up the roast. Cook for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure…. turn off heat and allow to de-pressurize.

Once all the pressure has been released, remove the pressure cooker lid and add 1/2 of the sauerkraut and cook again for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.. …. turn off heat and allow to de-pressurize.

Once all the pressure has been released, remove the pressure cooker lid and add the rest of the sauerkraut and the hot dogs, cook again for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.. …. turn off heat and allow to de-pressurize.

I’ve been making my pork-n-kraut just like this for over 10 years, I’ve found that by cooking it in 3 different segments it allows the pork to get really tender, yet the sauerkraut and hot dogs do not get over cooked and everything gets deeply infused with the sauerkraut flavor!

While your doing all the add-cook-depressurizations make some mashed potatoes – quarter red skinned potatoes and boiled them in sea salt water, drained when tender….mashed with my old fashion potato masher, added lots of butter, raw milk and seasoned to taste. I left the skins on the potatoes for a rustic, lumpy mashed potato!

I took all the pork, kraut and hot dogs out of the pot and put it in a 9×13 casserole dish so we can easily reheat it in the oven.. And drained the liquid, cooked on the stove to reduce and have a little “broth” to ladle on your plate.

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