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Posts tagged ‘organic’

Lately I have been on a bit of a health kick. A couple of my friends on Facebook have inspired me. :) Also, I figure I can’t eat too healthy with a baby growing inside of me, so why not? And since juicing is one of the easiest ways to get good nutrition, and since we have a juicer, I’m juicing.

After the morning sickness went away, I suddenly couldn’t eat as much as I had been. If I ate anything solid in the evenings–even a smoothie–I would crawl into bed with a heavy feeling in my stomach and sometimes even a sensation a little like heartburn.

I quickly realized that my body just couldn’t handle food in the evening. At least, not as late as I was eating–and since we were not eating breakfast early, there was no way to get a third meal early enough.

Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem. I maintain my weight much better on two meals than on three. However, I am pregnant, and I don’t want to deprive the baby of calories or nutrition. Granted, the baby is only about 5 inches long right now and doesn’t need a whole lot of calories right now, but I want to make sure I am giving it all the best nutrition possible.

I recently bought a jar of wheat grass from Whole Foods, and sometimes I would mix that in with a glass of juice, but I don’t want to buy juice all the time, since those juices aren’t really all that good for you. Not that 100% juice is bad, but I like variety, too.

Then I thought of juicing. I bought a 5 lb bag of organic carrots at Whole Foods and juiced them. This I could mix with the wheat grass, and it was very satisfying. I also started mixing in Melaleuca’s fiber with this juice (adding extra water), and I found this very tasty and good for my digestion, too.

Sometimes I juice other things with the carrots. Last night I juiced carrots, kale, and apples, all organic. And I took pictures. My kids were helping me.

Organic Carrots, Red Kale, and Apples

I had made kale chips with half a bunch of red kale, so I used the rest for this batch of juice, I had almost 5 pounds of carrots, because I had used 3 or 4 in recipes during the week. And the 3 apples that had been on sale the last time I went to Whole Foods.

So I washed them and started juicing. As soon as he saw the juicer, Manny wanted to come watch. He likes to nibble  the carrot fiber as it comes out of the juicer.

He was trying to help, but the carrots were too hard for him to push down. He put some of them in, though.

After juicing most of the carrots and all the kale, I started on the apples. Since apples are much softer than carrots, he was able to do it all by himself.

When it was all done, I let Manny and Gislaine have a little bit of the apple juice (it had 2 or 3 carrots in it, since juicing a carrot with the slender end up last leaves less unjuiced food than a chunk of apple), and then I mixed the juices together. I added the extra water and fiber to mine, left one for my husband, and froze the rest. Here is the result (before adding fiber to mine):

So now when I feel a little bit of hunger in the evening, I mix up a liquid drink. Since my husband drank one, there are a total of 4 servings per week for me. I mixed fiber with one, and drank it down. I stored the extra ones in the freezer. I get one out the night before I want to drink it. On days that I don’t drink one of these juices, I will add a bit of whatever reconstituted frozen juice I have in the fridge (right now I think it’s apple raspberry) to my fiber drink and throw in some wheat grass. With the kale in this, I don’t think I really need the wheat grass with my organic juice.

So that’s what I do for supper most nights. It digests very quickly, so there is nothing to make my stomach upset when I crawl into bed, and tastes delicious. Granted, there are some evenings when lunch was light and I’m hungry early; then I’ll eat a little something. And I’m sure in the last trimester I will be very hungry and will need more calories than I do now. But for now, I’m content that I am giving my baby the best nutrition I can while still listening to my body.

This post is participating in the Modest Monday link-up on The Modest Mom blog.

I can almost hear you saying, “What is yuca?” (pronounced YOU-kuh). It is a very interesting root found in many tropical countries, from Africa to the Carribbean, Central and South America, many South Pacific islands, and parts of Asia. I learned to like it when my husband introduced me to it while we were living in Texas.

It is a very starchy, fibrous root with a kind of bark-like skin and white flesh. It cooks similar to a potato, but it is a bit drier and has a rather bland flavor. You may have heard of its other name, cassava, as it is called in many English speaking countries, such as Jamaca. It is also the root from which tapioca is made.

The other night, my husband found this site that talks about many of the properties of yuca, and we were surprised to find that it is a good source of calcium, as well as anti-inflammatory.

My son is allergic to potatoes, which makes buying gluten-free mixes and products virtually impossible. However, tapioca flour and starch can substitute very well for potato flour and starch in GF recipes, and he is not allergic to it at all.

In Texas, we used to buy it for about $1 a pound. Not terribly cheap, but still affordable. We had to remove the skin and the ends, and I learned the hard way to chop it open in the store to check for pure white flesh (instead of flesh with gray lines in it). Sometimes I would find a lot that was good, and then I would skin it all and freeze whatever we didn’t plan on using in the next few days. It could be taken from the freezer and put directly into hot water to cook, and it tasted almost the same as fresh.

Then we moved to Oregon, and the yuca here is almost $3 a pound. So we never buy it. Not to mention that I doubt it will be good quality up here. But my husband found frozen shredded yuca at a Philippino market for about $1.25 per 1 lb bag. He used about two pounds to make a yuca casserole for Christmas dinner (yuca on top and bottom with seasoned veggie burger filling), but it’s a bit expensive to use for the family on a regular basis, and takes a bit of work. However, we discovered that if we took some of the yuca (which is so finely shredded that it is more like a thick batter than anything else), added some salt, and pan fried it in small patties, Manny would devour them. He’s been known to eat more than half a pound of it at one sitting!

Lately poor Manny, who is definitely allergic to eggs, milk, and all nuts and seeds except flax and hemp, has become more and more sensitive to beans. I can’t just feed him grains–most of them aren’t a complete protein, and even if they were, the quality of protein isn’t enough for a growing child. He won’t eat greens (and with the limited amount of food he can eat, it’s next to impossible to hide greens in anything), so using greens to supplement his protein isn’t really a viable option. So we decided to try a little turkey. Daddy bought some at the health food store today. He chopped it fine, mixed it with the yuca, made the patties, and cooked them with a little palm oil (which oxidizes slower than olive oil, is flavorless, and healthier than canola oil). We started with about 2 ounces of turkey and half a pound of yuca. I’m not sure how many patties he ate, but there were only 2 two-inch patties left when he was full.

Turkey isn’t something we’ll give him every day. What we bought today cost over $2, and I’m not positive it was organic  or free range (it didn’t say it was; he bought it pre-cooked and sliced in the deli, not raw). I can buy similar turkey from Azure Standard, only it IS organic and free-range, and costs over $6 for each 6-oz package (just under $6 each if I buy a 10-pack). I figure buying it pre-cooked is better, so I don’t have to deal with raw meat in my kitchen (a friend made that suggestion, and I totally agree with her!).

As a third-generation vegetarian, feeding meat to one of my kids is something I really hesitate to do. But we don’t seem to have a lot of options right now. I really hope that he will outgrow many of his allergies eventually, and in the mean time he really needs to avoid anything that makes him more itchy. If giving him a little turkey now and again will make that easier, then so be it.

Now if we could just move to a tropical country where yuca and other non-potato roots are staples in the diet… Hey, there’s no law that says I can’t wish, is there? :)

Rye Sourdough

When I first tried sourdough many years ago, I fell in love with it. The tangy flavor really appealed to me. I especially liked the crusty edges (even though I rarely eat the heels of regular bread). Unfortunately, most sourdough is 100% white flour, and I have been trying to avoid white flour as much as possible. In fact, I managed to go 4 or 5 months here in Aloha without it. When I did buy it, it was for a recipe for my husband to take to work for his coworkers. And with the leftovers, I attempted to make playdough (that turned out to be a failure–the recipe with cornstarch was much more like the real thing). But now I’m rambling…

Since I have developed an allergy to wheat, I try to avoid it for the most part. That means no more bread at potlucks, for instance. So all the fancy sourdoughs that show up there don’t show up on my plate. And I don’t buy it, white or whole grain or otherwise.

But I thought, now that I’ve found a good recipe for 100% rye bread, maybe I could find a recipe for 100% rye sourdough, and a way to make a starter.

Sure enough, I found a site that explains exactly how to make a rye sourdough starter, and then how to make bread with it. Granted, the recipe it shows in those steps uses 50% wheat, but I wrote the author, and he shared a sort of recipe for 100% rye (something about 78% hydration, 1% salt and 1% caraway, I think it was). I still have a lot to learn, it seems.

But I can’t do anything until I have a ripe starter, and that will take the better part of this week, it seems, so I have plenty of time to figure that out. I had everything I needed except for distilled water and a kitchen scale. Apparently, the kitchen scale is very important, because the water and flour need to be mixed in equal weights–such as 50 grams each–and it’s very difficult to be accurate with measurements. And when it comes to actually making the bread, the only way one could figure out 78% hydration, which means more flour than water, so that instead of 50:50 rye:water it’s now 100:78. It seems I’ll get to use some math for the process–my favorite subject it was, so that will be nice.

Anyhow, I stopped at the Goodwill on my way home from shopping today and found a small kitchen scale for $1.99! I also found a number of other things I hadn’t planned on buying and ended up spending over $25, but that’s okay, because they were all things we more or less needed. Okay, the $10 family-sized swimming pool probably wasn’t really needed, but then, the neighbors loaned us their kiddie pool, and it got a big hole and it’s not fixable, and it was worth $10, so now we can replace it, so I guess it was needed after all.

Oops, I’m rambling again. Sorry…

So I picked up a gallon of distilled water and mixed up 50 grams each of 100% organic rye flour and water in a widemouth canning jar, screwed on a lid (a plastic one–not too tight), and set it in the kitchen.

My only concern is that the temperature of the house fluctuates dramatically. Right now it is about 80 degrees (the A/C doesn’t work), but this morning it was 65 (thanks to all the open windows). I hope this doesn’t negatively affect the culture. Maybe it will just slow it down at night.

Anyhow, I can’t wait for morning to see if it has any bubbles. I’ll take a picture then–it’s late now and I’m ready for bed. It’s been a long day!

All I can say is that a rye sourdough starter looks a whole lot easier to make than a wheat one, so maybe it’s a blessing I became allergic to wheat. And there’s nothing better than rye bread with caraway. Unless it’s more rye bread with caraway!

If you have any interest in rye sourdough, I would encourage you to take a look at the site I found. They have a lot of interesting information, including pictures of the bread they have made. It looks so good!!!

I haven’t done any tutorials since I moved into this home, so I figured it was time to do one. This method of making soy concentrate is going to be the basis for the next two recipes. Keep in mind that you could use it to make soy milk (by adding twice the water), but that is just too much work, in my opinion, especially when I have a soy milk machine. But I can’t use it to make small quantities of concentrate, so this is what I do when I need some.

First, you will need to soak soy beans. This is 1/2 cup of dry, organic Laura soybeans (the second best price and the best quality I have found), soaked overnight.

It is essential to think ahead for any recipe using soy concentrate. I suppose if you had some soy milk powder that didn’t have vanilla in it, you could double the amount of powder, but it would cost a whole lot more. I don’t happen to have any soy milk powder in the house! I either plan ahead or do without.

Once the soy beans are ready, bring about two quarts of water to a boil. When it’s just about boiling, turn on the hot water on, and when it’s hot, put the soy beans under it to rinse and heat up. The water should not be on strong enough to make the beans spill out.

If you time it right (which I never do, just so you know), the water should be boiling now (mine’s usually been boiling for 5 or 10 minutes). Fill your blender with the boiling water to warm it. Glass blenders are best, because they retain the heat longest. It will warm quickly—probably 30 seconds or less, and you want the water to be as hot as possible. Now get a strainer and pour your beans into the strainer, then quickly dump the water from the blender over them.

Now rapidly dump the beans into the hot blender and add 2 cups of the boiling water. Blend. Be careful not to start the blender on high, or at best you could have a very hot mess all over. ***Here’s how I like to start it. You’ll want to blend about 2 minutes.

I should make a comment on the reason for all that effort, as opposed to just rinsing the beans and blending in water. There is an enzyme in soybeans that is activated when the bean is broken. This enzyme is what gives homemade soymilk its “beany” flavor—the flavor that store-bought soy milk does not have. However, the enzyme can be killed before it reacts if the water is hot enough. That’s why we heat the beans, the blender, and then blend in boiling water. Soymilk made this way tastes better than anything my soy milk machine can make—it just takes too much effort to make it! Maybe when all my kids are grown and gone. . .

Let it blend for a couple of minutes. You want it very fine. Now, pour it into a 2-quart saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. I say slowly, because it’s already very hot, and soymilk will boil over very quickly (as it nearly did in the picture below while I toyed with the camera settings!), so you need to watch it. I stir with a rubber spatula, so I don’t scratch the bottom, but also try to prevent it from building up. You could use a double boiler and let it go 15-20 minutes (it probably won’t boil over then), but that uses more energy.

I cooked it with the fiber in it because it was just too hot to strain. If I were making soy milk, I would strain it out as best I could with the spatula, then put the pulp back in the blender with cold water, blend briefly, then I would strait it out well. But I’m making concentrate, not milk, so I am not adding water. Now I let it cool in the fridge. Within a couple of hours, it will be cool enough to strain through a cloth, but not too cold.

This should make 2 cups of concentrate. If it isn’t quite enough, top the jar off.

Make sure your concentrate is thoroughly chilled before using in recipes, unless it calls for hot concentrate. It should be chilled for making next week’s recipe, as well as mayo or similar recipes.

You could also use this in recipes calling for evaporated milk. You would want to add a little sugar to sweet recipes, like pumpkin pie, though for savory dishes, like creamy soup, you wouldn’t want to. Be sure to add an extra dash or two of salt to the recipe, especially if it is initially a tad low in salt, because this doesn’t have the salt content that store-bought soy milk does. Also, keep in mind that if you are going to cook it, you can skip the cooking in saucepan step; just chill in the blender (in the fridge—it cuts down on bacteria growth), strain, and use. But use within a day or two, because uncooked it won’t last very long.

Next week I’m going to share my recipe for a soy base that can be used to make anything from sour cream to sweet whipped cream to mayo.

Note: I got this method from the cookbook Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley, but I did not copy their text. I have made the recipe so many times that I just wrote it from memory, so I don’t think I’m breaking any copyright laws. But their book does have some excellent recommendations on using it, and I highly recommend it.