Kombucha: Everyone is Doing It, Should You?

What is this weirdly-named drink that everyone is into lately? Kombucha, pronouced COMB-BOO-CHA, is the hottest drink in the health food shops and many people are even making it at home. But what actually is it and is it really that good for you?

Kombucha: Everyone is Doing It, Should You?

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is tea with sugar that has been fermented. That simply means that a culture has been added to the tea and then it has been left to sit out at room temperate for about a week. During that time, the culture feeds off the sugar and the nutrients in the tea and produces tons of healthy bacteria. Kinda like yoghurt, but a drink!

The culture for kombucha is called a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture (or Colony) Of Bacteria & Yeast. Sounds gross, and definitely looks gross, but as we’ve all been slowly re-learning from our wise ancestors, good bacteria is your gut’s best friend. And a happy gut means a healthy body.

As with many fermented foods and drinks, Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, and many cultures including the ancient Chinese, have used it as a health elixir.

Kombucha SCOBY: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast
Kombucha SCOBY: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast

Is Kombucha really good for you?

The Chinese knew what they were talking about. In addition to all of the beneficial bacteria, Kombucha also contains B-vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and large quantities of detoxifying acids. So yes, it’s a very healthy drink!

Though some like to debate over exactly which ailments kombucha can help ‘cure’, I look at it this way: If a naturally fermented drink can boost your digestive system and immune system in a variety of ways, it will surely be a factor in prevention and/or healing of any kind. It’s not like medicine which targets one thing in particular, but rather is an overall health booster and supporter. And that’s the holistic, primal way. 🙂

Health Benefits of Kombucha by Dr. Axe
Health Benefits of Kombucha by Dr. Axe

Isn’t Kombucha full of sugar?

Some wonder how something with so much sugar in it can be good for you. And what about the caffeine in the tea? However, most all of the caffeine and sugar is ‘pre-digested’ by the scoby and bacteria, so as long as you wait 7 – 30 days before drinking, the sugar content will be very very low. The longer you wait to drink it, the less sugar will be left. You can even tell this by tasting it, as the sweet tea will become more and more sour.

What does Kombucha taste like?

Just like with yoghurt and sauerkraut, the fermentation process produces a sour or vinegary taste. For some people, that takes getting used to, and for others it’s divine (usually the same people who love olives and pickles!). Because of the sour taste, kombucha is often flavoured with fresh fruit, herbs, and spices. It can also be used as a ‘mixer’ – diluted with water, sparkling water, fresh juice, or put into a shake or smoothie. Or drunk strong and straight in smaller quantities. We drink ours out of a big shot glass.

The fermentation process also produces natural carbonation, which gives kombucha that refreshing fizziness. Goodbye soda, hello kombucha!

Why make Kombucha at home?

As with most things – especially trendy health foods – making your own kombucha at home can save you a fortune. Kombucha is right there with chicken broth as one of the absolute cheapest ‘superfoods’ you can make at home. And it takes only a few minutes of your time!

The cost of homemade Kombucha

Once you get a scoby culture, you can use it for the rest of your life. And if you know someone who makes kombucha, you’ll get a scoby for free because they multiply at each batch. Then all you need for 1 litre (1 quart) of kombucha is 2 tea bags, 1/4 cup of white sugar, 1 litre of filtered water, and a 1/2 cup of already fermented kombucha (from your last batch or your friend’s) or distilled white vinegar (if it’s your first batch).

So your costs per litre (quart) of homemade kombucha is 2 tea bags and a scoop of sugar. Even if you make sure to get organic tea and sugar, that’s hardly 20 cents I would guess! Compare that to several dollars to buy kombucha at the store, or even more money to buy probiotic, vitamin and supplement pills.

Our adventures in Kombucha

We first fell in love with the bubbly yummy taste of Kombucha through buying it at our farmer’s markets. However it was a big expense each week, and we’d run out of it quick. Especially now that I’m healing my leaky gut, I wanted to have some to drink every day without breaking the bank.

So now we’ve been making our own kombucha for about 6 months, and have a continuous brew on the kitchen counter which only requires my attention about once a week for 10 minutes. This provides us with more than enough kombucha, always there in our fridge. And we still haven’t run out of delicious flavours ideas to make.

Other great links:

https://www.healthambition.com/kombucha-tea-health-benefits/ 

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza, Plus 4 More Grain-free Pizza Crusts

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Recipe

You know what makes pizza so delicious? That perfect combination of italian tomato sauce and melted cheese, plus meaty or veggie toppings. The pizza base is nothing more than just a gluten-filled, over-processed plate to put the good stuff on. And it fills you up too fast to enjoy more of the good bits. So here’s an idea – use veggies as your pizza base!

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza

Eggplant is a fun place to start with this idea, as it’s easy to slice, quick to cook, and the flavour goes well with your pizza sauce and any toppings.

Get the Good Cheese

To make it a really primal pizza, all that’s left is to replace processed cheese with some unpasteurised (raw) parmesan cheese like Grana Padana or Parmigiano Reggiano. We have found these in our local supermarket, but you have to make sure to get a European brand that says unpasteurised in the ingredient list.

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Ingredients

– 1 Eggplant
– Olive oil (or melted butter or ghee)
– Tomato paste
– Italian dried herbs like oregano, thyme, sage, parsley
– Raw parmesan cheese, grated
– Optional: fresh basil leaves, finely diced chorizo or other meat.

 

No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Recipe

Step 1: Slice eggplant into rounds of even thickness. Not too thick, not too thin. Or you can slice your eggplant lengthwise to make bigger ‘pizza bases’.

Step 2: Lay eggplant slices on a baking tray or on your broiler (oven grill) tray. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter/ghee.

Step 3: Turn broiler (oven grill) to med-high heat and cook eggplant slices until lightly browned.

Step 4: Flip eggplant, brush or spray again with olive oil or butter and cook until lightly browned.

Grilled eggplant slices
You can cut the eggplant lengthwise for larger slices

Step 5: While eggplant is cooking, mix dried herbs into the tomato paste and season well with salt and pepper. Pizza sauce!

Step 6: Spread pizza sauce onto browned eggplant slices. Then sprinkle grated cheese on top of the sauce. Add any optional diced chorizo, chicken or other meat, if desired.

Step 7: Put eggplant pizzas back under the heat for a couple minutes, just until the cheese melts.

Step 8: Top each eggplant pizza with one basil leaf to serve. This last step is optional but highly recommended for amazing flavour, especially if you’re not using any other toppings.

Eggplant pizza rounds with chorizo

Best served immediately as an appetizer or side dish. Everyone is impressed with these when I serve them at dinner parties!

Unless you must have that crusty crunch in your pizza, why bother with all the gluten-free, paleo pizza crust recipes that are so time-consuming and don’t add any delicious flavour to your pizza? The best grain-free pizza crusts are the vegetables themselves!

 

Other Veggie & Meat Pizza Bases

Pizza zucchini boats from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Pizza zucchini boats from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Butternut Squash Pumpkin Pizza Crusts
Butternut Squash (Pumpkin) Pizza Crusts from Empowered Sustenance
Mushroom cap primal pizzas from Table for Two
Mushroom cap pizzas from Table for Two
Burger base pizzas from Big Red Kitchen
Burger base pizzas from Big Red Kitchen

 

What’s your favourite grain-free pizza idea?

 

How to Make Chicken Broth…Because Look What’s in Those Powdered Cubes

How to Make Chicken Broth

Chicken broth is insanely nutritious and healing. But only if you make it yourself! That’s because those chicken stock powders and cubes are made of nothing but deadly non-food ingredients. Fortunately, broth, or stock, is one of the cheapest and easiest things to make at home. Once you see how easy it is to make, and what’s in those cubes, you’ll never buy chicken stock again.

Chicken Broth went from cure-all to chemical concoction

From this…

Traditional Chicken Broth
Chicken or Chicken Bones
Carrot & Celery or Veg Scraps
Onion
Water
Fresh Herbs & Spices

To this…

Powdered Chicken Stock or Bouillon Cubes
Iodised Salt
Flavour Enhancer (MSG)
Yeast Extract (MSG)
Natural Flavours 621 (MSG)
Caramel Colour (150a)
Artificial Flavours
Dehydrated Onion
Hydrogenated Palm Oil
Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (possible MSG)
Mechanically Separated Dehydrated Chicken Meat

What are all those things in the powdered stock?
Now, we could go and look up all those ingredients to see what they are. OR we could just admit that we don’t recognise them as real foods and therefore they are likely not a good idea for humans to eat.

What we can see is that powdered stock is little more than processed salt and artificial flavours designed to taste like chicken. Many of which are forms of MSG, which has been linked to numerous illnesses and disease. The last ingredient of processed chicken meat is actually not very common in stock cubes.

What about buying liquid stock?

1/ Most store-bought liquid stocks are labeled “reconstituted”, which basically means you are paying for lots of water. Though not as fake as the powdered stock, many liquid stocks are still full of processed salt and artificial additives.

2/ Organic and “natural” liquid stocks are often made from real chicken/bones and vegetables, however it can still be hard to find ones that don’t contain “natural flavours” such as yeast extract, which is code for MSG.

3/ The best quality organic and additive-free liquid stocks will set you back around $3-5 per cup of broth, while homemade broth costs only about 0.37 cents per cup. That’s a huge mark-up for something you can make in your kitchen with about 15 minutes to spare and some leftover food scraps.

What’s so healthy about homemade broth?

Your grandma, or maybe your great-grandma prized chicken broth as a remedy for the flu, and modern research has confirmed that broth helps prevent and mitigate infectious diseases. It’s no wonder I list it as one of the only superfoods you’ll ever need.

Broth is a powerhouse of nutrition AND it’s very easy to digest and absorb the nutrients.

Bone broths in particular (opposed to vegetable broths) contain many minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium. During the long and slow cooking process, these minerals are drawn out of the animal bones and into the broth. So instead of fretting how to get your calcium without consuming processed dairy products, how about just incorporating delicious bone broths into your diet the way the Asians do?

Dr. Kaayla Daniels says: “Traditional bone broth helps you absorb MORE protein so you can get by on less. The gelatin aids digestion and is the same as collagen, so it’s great for the skin and to prevent cellulite. Broth has been used to heal every imaginable gut disorder including colitis and Chrons, plus autoimmune disorders. It’s a good way for vegans to lose their virginity.”

Gelatin, which naturally makes your homemade broth congeal when it cools, is a big part of broth’s superfood formula. As far back as the first century, gelatin has been used as a therapy for the body. It has been found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases. As Dr. Daniels says above, it is commonly used to heal the gut disorders so common today, from irritable bowel and leaky gut to Chrons Disease.

Though gelatin is not a complete protein, it acts as a protein sparer, meaning it helps your body more fully utilise any complete proteins you eat. This is why bone broths are a must for people who don’t have much meats in their diet or have trouble digesting meats, AND why so many cultures include bone broths as part of every meal.

Chicken or Chicken Bones?

There are a few ways to use chicken or bones to make your stock.

1/Use a whole chicken with the meat on.
At the end, you will have your broth AND loads of cooked chicken meat to make soups, curries, chicken salads, and scrap salads.

Chicken broth and leftover chicken for soups and salads
Chicken broth and leftover chicken for soups and salads

2/ Use the leftover chicken bones from a whole roast chicken, wings, legs, thighs, etc.
Every time we eat chicken, the leftover bones go into a bag or container in our freezer, so that when I go to make a pot of broth, there are plenty of bones to use. Instead of throwing out bones, you are now going to use them to make one of the most nutritious foods in your kitchen. How cool is that? And people say eating healthy is expensive!

Put your chicken bones in the freezer to save for when you make broth.
Put your chicken bones in the freezer to save for when you make broth.

3/ Buy cheap chicken bones from your butcher.
Most butchers sell chicken carcasses, or chicken backs for only a couple dollars. If you can find chicken feet as well, grab those for your broth, as they are full of gelatin!

How to Make Chicken Broth

How to Make Chicken Broth

Ingredients:
– Chicken or chicken bones (free-range or organic!) About two carcasses, or one whole chicken plus some more bones.
– 1-2 carrots, roughly chopped
– 1-3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
– 1 onion, skin on, cut in half or quarters
– Water to cover everything in your pot
Optional: 2 tbsp vinegar, sea salt, 1 tsp peppercorns, lemon peel, 1 bunch parsely, additional herbs and spices

Chicken broth ingredients

You can also use veggie scraps instead. When you cut carrots, celery, leek, and onion for other meals, save the ends, skins and scraps in a bag in your freezer. Instead of throwing them out, use them to make broth! You really won’t need salt if you are going to make soups and other meals with your broth, as you will add seasoning then.

STEP 1: Put everything in a large pot or slow-cooker.

STEP 2: Cover all ingredients with COLD filtered water.
*Note – if using vinegar, letting everything sit in the vinegar water for 30-60 minutes before cooking will help extract calcium and other minerals from the bones.

Throw chicken broth ingredients in a pot of cold water. Then let it cook!
Throw chicken broth ingredients in a pot of cold water. Then let it cook!

STEP 3: If using a slow-cooker, simply turn on low. If using a pot on the stove, slowly bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat so it just barely simmers. Impurities in the form of frothy scum will rise to the surface during the first hour or so. Skim this off with a large spoon and throw away. Leave to cook for 8-24 hours.
*Note – if using a whole chicken, remove the chicken after about 4 hours so the meat doesn’t overcook. You can put on kitchen gloves to remove the hot meat and put aside, then throw the bones back into the broth.
*Note – if using parsely, add the bunch for the last hour or so of cooking to add additional mineral ions to the broth.

STEP 4: Strain the broth and throw away the bones, vegetables and herbs.

Strain the broth directly into containers for the fridge
Strain the broth directly into containers for the fridge
Or strain the broth into one large container to then divide up
Or strain the broth into one large container to then divide up

STEP 5: Put broth in the fridge and when cool, skim off and throw away the fat layer that forms on top.

Put broth into the fridge to cool
Put broth into the fridge to cool
Skim the top fat layer off the cooled broth
Skim the top fat layer off the cooled broth

If this all sounds too time-consuming

If you are in a hurry at any one of these steps, feel free to change the order around! I often throw my ingredients in the slow-cooker in the evening after dinner and let the broth cook all night. In the morning, I scoop out most of the bones and veg with a slotted spoon, then throw the whole slow-cooker bowl into the fridge to let cool while I get on with my day. When I get time later or that night, I can skim off the fat from the cooled broth, then strain the broth into containers or ice trays. A few minutes at each stage are all that is needed!

Storing your chicken broth / stock

Keep your broth in containers or jars in the fridge for up to 5 days (longer if reboiled), or in the freezer for several months. You can use ice cubes trays to make stock cubes that are easy to throw into your pan when cooking, or even make ice blocks (popsicles) for a very nutritious cold snack.

Store broth in jars in the fridge for 5 days
Store broth in jars in the fridge for 5 days
Make broth ice cubes to add when cooking
Make broth ice cubes to add when cooking
Boost your health and digestion with a broth popsicle!
Boost your health and digestion with a broth popsicle!

 Drink Your Broth!

Of course, broth adds liquid and delicious flavour to many of your favourite casseroles, stews, and soups. You can also cook veggies in it for extra flavour and nutrition, and use it instead of water when cooking rice and other pre-soaked grains.

However, if you also need an immune boost, help with your digestion, or some extra healing in times of illness or stress, simply heat a cup of your homemade broth in a small pot on the stove and drink it in a mug like a cup of tea. Magic healing tea, that is. 🙂

 

References & Further Reading on Broth:

– “Broth is Beautiful” by the Weston A. Price Foundation
– “Stock Reviews” by Choice.com.au
– “Chicken Broth: No MSG Labels are False” by The Healthy Home Economist
– “Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Recalls…” by The Health Ranger
– “Nourishing Traditions” book by Sally Fallon

 

How will you make your homemade broth? What do you use it for? Share your thoughts and ideas!

Probiotic & Essential Fatty Acid ‘Superfood’ Ice Cream

Putting the words ice cream together with probiotic, essential fatty acid and superfood sounds like a fake food marketed in a psuedo health food store. But never fear, these things have come together organically and spontaneously in my kitchen. The result was such a wonderful breakfast surprise (yes we ate ice cream for breakfast), that I had to share it with you!

Make your own probiotic efa superfood ice cream!

I was whipping up a breakfast shake for the three of us, with the little groceries I had left.

Fortunately, I always keep the freezer stocked with frozen fruits and veggies to have on hand for shakes. Not only for the times when we are low on groceries (about 4-5 days after the farmer’s market), but also because shakes are so much better with frozen ingredients! Cold and slushy…yum.

In addition to fruit and veg, I also had two other superfoods – eggs and kefir. Remember, superfoods are not just foreign expensive berries and powders. Here’s a list of the only superfoods you’ll ever need.

Into the food processor/blender went:

The Superfood Ice Cream Ingredients

– 5 egg yolks
– 2 1/2 frozen bananas
– Handful frozen strawberries (or other fruit)
– Splash of vanilla extract
– Generous splash of coconut kefir

Eggs –
Brad and I have recently taken food intolerance tests, which came about because of my digestive issues and our desire to learn more about acquired food intolerances.

Brad tested high for an intolerance to egg whites, and through eliminating and re-introducing them, has discovered he only shows symptoms when eating the egg whites raw.

We also know that raw egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors, which are destroyed through cooking, so for our shakes, we have been using mostly just the yolks. The majority of an egg’s nutrients is in the yolks anyway, including plenty of essential fatty acids (as long as your eggs are from pastured chickens!).

Egg yolks are a main ingredient in traditional homemade ice cream.

Frozen Fruit –
Freeze ripe fruit regularly and you will always have the makings of great shakes and homemade ice creams on hand! Bananas, especially are a great base, as their sweetness means you usually won’t need to add any other sweetener. Peel the bananas first before freezing.

Frozen bananas and a couple other ingredients are all you need to make endless varieties of 5-minute ice creams like this one.

Vanilla Extract – 
Make sure you only use good quality extracts. Spend a little extra money to get the good stuff, then use extracts to add wonderful flavour to shakes, ice creams and other healthy treats. Peppermint and orange extracts add great flavour too.

Coconut Kefir –
Kefir is a fermented drink which is full of beneficial bacteria from the fermenting process. Hence it is a probiotic – it replenishes the gut with good bacteria. Kefir is traditionally made with milk, and can also be made with water.

Brad has made our own at home with raw milk and also with coconut milk, and he will post an article soon teaching you how. It’s so easy! In the meantime, you may also find kefir at your local health food shop or farmer’s market.

Probiotic Essential Fatty Acid Ice Cream

With more frozen fruit than liquid, and the thickness of the yolks with no whites, our shake came out thick enough to eat with a spoon – so it’s ice cream! 🙂

Optional extras

After serving up Brad & Kaiya’s ice cream, I added some of the egg white into the food processor, along with a handful of frozen kale to blend up for my ice cream. Just thought I’d add in that extra bit of protein, nutrients and antioxidants. The result was more a more liquidy ice cream texture, but still soooo delicious!

Probiotic EFA Ice Cream with Kale
Probiotic EFA Ice Cream with Kale

You could also add other ‘superfoods’, such as cacao for a chocolatey ice cream, or blueberries or beetroot for an antioxidant punch. Use the basic 5-minute ice creams recipes, and add whatever superfoods suit!

Kaiya loved having healthy ice cream for breakfast, as will you and your kids. Just take care not to make it a daily habit, which can lead to these Dangers of Kids Living on Healthy Treats.

By the way, writing this the same day after having this ice cream for breakfast, it’s been four hours and I am just now starting to get hungry for lunch. The fat and nutrients in the egg yolks and kefir really satisfied my body for while, and I’ve had no cravings all morning. Now that’s the kind of ice cream I want in my life!

 

What did you put in your superfood ice cream? How was it?!

4-Ingredient Macaroons – Cooking with Kaiya

4 Ingredient Coconut Macaroons

Whenever mum and I have some extra egg-whites or time on our hands, or we just feel like baking or making snacks for our friends, we do macaroons! We took a batch to my daycare Christmas party and no one could believe that they were so healthy when we told them the ingredients. That’s how yummy they are.

 

Coconut macaroons are one of the easiest healthy treats
Coconut macaroons are one of the easiest healthy treats
Coconut macaroons with a few basic healthy ingredients
An electric whisk/beater makes macaroons quick and easy

Mum used to beat the egg whites for ages, trying to get them into stiff peaks. Now we have an electric hand whisk, so she’s much keener to make macaroons now! You can do it either way, but just warning you that it’s an arm workout without the electric thingy. 🙂

NOTES:

– Use the best ingredients you can find. Then your macaroon desserts will be super nutritious. Nutritious desserts = happy kids and happy parents. That means raw unpasteurised honey, organic vanilla essence, unsweetened coconut, unprocessed sea salt, and organic pastured eggs.

– The thicker your honey, the better your macaroons will stay together in nice little haystack cookie shapes.

– Let the macaroons cool thoroughly before eating. This is the hardest part of the recipe – waiting to eat them while they stare at you from the kitchen counter!

– Add extra ingredients to jazz up your macaroons if you like. For example, you can use cacao/cocoa powder for chocolate macaroons and natural food colouring for colourful treats.

– If you need something to do with your yolks, make homemade icecream or put them in your primal shakes!

Kids can make coconut macaroons with little help
Kids can make coconut macaroons with little help

Coconut Macaroon Ingredients

– 6 egg whites
– 1/4 tsp sea salt
– 1/2 cup honey
– 1 tbsp vanilla
– 3 cups shredded coconut
Oops, that’s 5 ingredients. Forgot about the salt! 🙂

Coconut Macaroons Recipe

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Step 2: Put egg whites and the salt into a large bowl and beat them with a whisk or beaters until they form stiff peaks. This means the egg whites will get really foamy and form tiny mountains when you move the foam upward. It takes at least 5 minutes of high speed whisking so don’t rush.

Step 3: Add the honey and vanilla carefully, so you don’t lose your stiff peaks. Beat again for a little bit to make sure your egg whites stay foamy with the peaks.

Step 4: Gently mix in the shredded coconut one cup at a time.

Step 5: Use a tablespoon to scoop heaping spoonfuls onto an oven tray covered with baking paper. Form them into same size ‘haystacks’.

Step 6: Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the coconut starts to brown a bit. Don’t wait for all of it to brown, or the bottom will get burned.

Step 7: Let cool completely, so the macaroons get nice and chewy. They cool faster on a wire rack. Leave the kitchen or you will be tempted to eat them all before they cool!

Amaze your family and friends with how tasty healthy treats can be. Remember that they are still snacks or dessert food, and you only need to have a couple a day. Then the pleasure lasts longer!

A tablespoon makes perfect size macaroon haystacks
A tablespoon makes perfect size macaroon haystacks
How can such a healthy dessert be so delicious?
How can such a healthy dessert be so delicious?

 

 How did your macaroons come out? Was everyone impressed?!

3 Meals in 20 Minutes

3 meals in 20 minutes

Not enough time to cook? Want delicious, healthy and filling meals without fancy ingredients or complicated recipes? Then it’s time you started taking advantage of that amazing thing every single one of us has in their kitchen. The oven!

Roast lamb and onion, pumpkin and cauliflower vegetable medley with steamed green beans
I didn’t cook this meal. My oven did!

I am addicted to oven roasting for several reasons:
– The oven does all the cooking for me while I play with Kaiya or ‘get things done’
– I can fit lots of food in the oven to cook all at once and have plenty for leftovers
– Roast meats and vegetables taste amazing without fancy ingredients or recipes
– Roasts impress people and make me look like a gourmet cook
– I don’t have to stand over a hot stove, stir or saute, or even get messy!

How to Make 3 Meals in 20 Minutes

So on to the task at hand. I’ve promised you 3 meals in 20 minutes, and this is how you do it.

1/ 20 minutes is the maximum time it should take to preheat the oven and prepare the meat and veg for the oven. The key here is to prepare more than you will eat in one meal!

Prepping a roast meal takes very little time and no fancy recipes
Prepping a roast meal takes very little time and no fancy recipes
No need to peel vegetables before roasting
No need to peel vegetables before roasting

For this example meal, I have quickly chopped up some vegetables and rubbed some dried herbs on the meat. That’s it!

This is the amount I prepared for our family of 3, so we would have enough for dinner, breakfast and lunch.

NOTES:
– There is no need to peel pumpkin before roasting. The skin comes off much easier after it’s cooked and on your plate.  The same goes for sweet potato, potatoes, and beetroot.
– For a roast vegetable medley, just chop and throw in whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. Here I used cauliflower, eggplant, red capsicum (bell pepper), and leek. Soft vegetables like zucchini, will roast much faster than hard vegetables like cauliflower. So you can either cut hard vegetables smaller than the soft ones and cook on the same tray, or put soft vegetables on a separate tray and put in the oven later.
– The green beans can also be roasted with the vegetable medley or the pumpkin, but we also like them steamed. I trimmed the ends and put them in a steamer in a pot of cold water on the stove during my 20 minutes prep time. Then right before the roast was ready to serve, I turned on the heat to quickly cook them.
– Here’s a list of which vegetables are great for roasting and tips on how to cook them in my Vegetable Cheat Sheet.
– Ask your butcher for a cut of meat that is good for roasting. We love lamb shoulder or leg (I think shoulder is much yummier!), beef topside or brisket, any ribs, and pork shoulder or belly. A whole chicken or any cut of chicken besides breast is great in the oven, and fish is delicious baked in the oven.
– For this lamb roast, I simply rubbed some olive oil and dried herbs all over the meat. It took less than a minute!
– Onion is delicious roasted. You can chop it up and mix it with your vegetable medley or put it around your meat. I find it’s best around the meat (or under the meat if you use a roasting rack), as the juices from the meat help flavour and caramelise the onion.

2/ While the oven is cooking the food… you don’t lose the time you needed to go do your workout, finish the chores, balance your finances, skype your mum, run errands or do a craft with your kid.

– The cooking time will depend on what cut of meat and which vegetables you are cooking. To keep it simple, I do almost everything on 180C (350F). For whole roast meats and whole chickens, I allow about 25 minutes per 500g (1lb). Vegetables chopped quite small average 20-25 minutes total, and whole, unchopped root vegetables such as beetroot (beets), sweet potato and potato take about 1-1.5 hours.
– Many people are afraid to leave home for a short time with a hot oven on, but with an electric oven at this temperature, the chance of fire is little to none so I don’t sweat it. Use your own judgement.

3/ Enjoy your gourmet roast meal that the oven cooked for you!

Roast lamb and onion, pumpkin and cauliflower vegetable medley with steamed green beans
Roast lamb and onion, pumpkin and cauliflower vegetable medley with steamed green beans

Let your meat sit for about 10-15 minutes before carving it up and digging in. Sea salt, pepper, butter and/or olive oil are the perfect condiments to add to your finished roast meat and veg. The roasting action gives such great flavour to your whole foods as it is!

4/ You now have two more meals worth of food with all the leftovers.

Put the rest of the cooked meat and vegetables into containers for the fridge.

Cook large quantities at once, then enjoy the leftovers
Cook large quantities at once, then enjoy the leftovers!

Chop up the leftover roast meat and vegetables to make scrap salad for packed lunches or on-the-go breakfasts. You can also add tomato, capsicum (peppers), avocado, fresh herbs, olive oil and vinegar to your scrap salad if you desire.

Chop up leftover roast meat and vegetables for scrap salad lunches
Chop up leftover roast meat and vegetables for scrap salad lunches

Learn the Basics of Lovin’ Leftovers to get the most out of your leftovers. Unless you use the same meats and vegetables every day and every week, there’s no reason that eating the same meal three times in a row should be boring. Especially if it’s so delicious!

However, if you want more variety with your leftovers, try Same Food, New Dish: Recipes Using Leftovers. Some examples for this meal:
– Chop the leftovers small and eat them inside lettuce wraps or hollowed capsicum (bell pepper).
– Mash the leftover pumpkin and pile the reheated meat and veggies on top of the warm mash.
– Chop the leftovers and warm in a pan with a homemade tomato sauce, or curry paste and coconut cream.

Cook when you have time. Not just in the evening.

Lastly, remember there are no rules stating that you must cook in the evening or only when you ready to eat. If you are home all morning but have a busy afternoon and evening, do your roast in the morning and have it for lunch, with leftovers for dinner and breakfast or lunch the next day. If you are off at work all week, cook up your roast on the weekend and pack up the leftovers into containers ready to eat during the week.

 

Let us know what you made in your oven how you enjoyed your leftovers!

5-Minute Ice Cream Recipes…Because Look What’s in The Store-Bought Stuff

5 Minute Ice Cream Recipes

I know I’m not the only one who has had a love affair with ice cream most of my life. The creamy, cold dessert that comes in endless variations of scrumptious flavours is a staple ‘treat’ for many of us. Sadly though, ice cream is not what it used to be. Just like so many other foods which have been completely ruined by mass commercialism and processing…

Ice cream went from nutritious to nasty

From this…

Traditional Ice Cream
Pastured Eggs
Raw Cream
Raw Sugar
Real Vanilla Bean or Fruit to flavour

To this…

Modern Commercial Ice Cream
Propylene glycol
Ethyl acetate
Yellow dye #5 
Hydrogenated oils
High fructose corn syrup
Dry milk solids
Caroxymethyl cellulose
Butyraldehyde
Amyl acetate
Diethyl glycol
Aldehyde C-17
Piperonal
Potassium sorbate
Mono and diglicerides
Disodium phosphate
Ethyl Acetate
Benzyl acetate
Mono stearate
Propylene glycol
Sodium benzoate
Polysorbate 80
Modified corn starch
Soy lecithin
Pasteurised Milk
Dextrose, Sucrose

Air — to double the volume and profits.


What are all those things in the commercial ice cream?

Really, I couldn’t be bothered to look them all up to find out. I don’t recognise them as foods, so that is enough to deter me. But to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here:
– Diethyl glycol, a cheap chemical used instead of eggs — also used in anti-freeze and paint removers
– Aldehyde C-17, a flavoring for cherry ice cream — an inflammable liquid used in dyes, plastics, and rubber
– Piperonal, used as flavouring in place of vanilla — a lice killer
– Ethyl Acetate, a pineapple flavor — a component of leather and textile cleaner, with vapors has been known to cause chronic lung, liver, and heart damage.

What about healthy or natural commercial ice creams?

There are still some wonderful ice cream makers out there, who whip up batches of creamy goodness with nothing but real food: milk, eggs, cream, sugar and fruit. Ben & Jerry even go so far as to source their milk from well-treated cows, and leave their mint ice cream white instead of adding fake green colouring. If you know what all the ingredients are on the ice cream tub, that is surely a Better Bad Choice.

However, the milk will always still be pasteurised, and if you know enough about pasteurised milk, you’ll still want to steer clear as much as possible.

As more people are avoiding milk products, coconut ice cream is now en vogue, and could be a good alternative. Again, just keep in mind that mass production of products usually requires stabilisers, preservatives, and other strange things like soy lecithin. Read the ingredients list!

2 ingredient homemade healthy blueberry ice cream
2 ingredient homemade blueberry ice cream.
No ice cream maker needed!

Homemade Ice Cream

For best quality and least confusion, homemade is best. In your kitchen, you know exactly what is going into your ice cream, and therefore what is going into your body. And that’s the way we like it!

Ice Cream Makers
These appliances are very cheap to purchase, and allow you to make your own traditional ice cream in whatever variation you like. You can use raw milk/cream or coconut milk/cream, depending on what works best for your body and tastes. We recently got one at a thrift shop and have compiled some awesome paleo ice cream recipes on our Pinterest snacks and desserts board. Most of those are dairy free, but if you have access to raw organic cream from pastured-cows, use these traditional ice cream recipes.

Frozen Fruit Ice Cream
If you don’t want to bother with an ice cream machine, but would like to have a delicious homemade version in about 5 minutes, start making your own frozen fruit ice cream. It’s so easy and delicious, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it before!

Frozen Fruit Ice Cream Recipes

There are only two simple steps:
1/ Freeze peeled bananas and any other desired fruits, such as berries, peaches, cherries.
2/ Whiz up the frozen fruit in your food processor, Thermomix, Vitamix, or Turbochef.

That’s it! Eat it right away while it’s cold and ice-creamy. You can also freeze it for awhile too, to experiment with the texture. Add other real food ingredients to make fun flavours.

Here are a couple of our favourite basic ‘ice creams’, with some optional flavour tweaks.
Amounts are for 1 serving. Easily double or triple for the whole family.

Chocolate Ice Cream
1 frozen banana
1 tbsp raw cacao (or cocoa if that’s all you have)
Optional additions:
1/4 avocado
honey to sweeten further
1 tsp shredded coconut

 

2 ingredient homemade healthy ice cream
2 Ingredient Chocolate Ice Cream.
Sooo good.

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
1 frozen banana
1 tsp raw cacao nibs (or chopped raw chocolate)
Optional additions:
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (for mint choc chip)
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tsp chia gel (soaked chia seeds)
1 tsp shredded coconut

Homemade chocolate chip chia ice cream
Choc chip chia ice cream whizzed up in my Turbochef in a couple minutes.

Banana Berry Ice Cream
1 frozen banana
1 large handful frozen berries (any kind)
Optional additions:
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp shredded coconut

Frozen banana and blueberries in a food processor equals ice cream
Frozen banana and blueberries in a food processor = ice cream!

Here’s one with frozen veggies…

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
2 cups frozen cooked pumpkin (freeze your leftovers!)
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)

Superfood Ice Cream
Check out this amazing recipe I came up with – a cold and creamy treat I call Probiotic & Essential Fatty Acid Superfood Ice Cream!

 

References:

Natural News.com: http://www.naturalnews.com/023849_ice_cream_chemicals_health.html#

 

We all scream for ice cream! Have you transitioned from store-bought stuff to homemade ice cream?

Immune Boosting Soup in Less Than 10 Minutes

Immune Boosting Soup in Less Than 10 Minutes

Whether you’re feeling sick, run-down, on the verge of illness, or simply want a highly nutritious meal in minutes, throw together this delicious immune boosting soup.

Immune Boosting soup made in minutes with whole food superfoods
Immune Boosting Soup made in minutes with whole food superfoods

Immune Boost Soup Ingredients

– Leftover cooked veggies such as cauliflower, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, green beans.
– 1 stick carrot or celery, diced
– 1-2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped
(use leftover roasted garlic for extra flavour)
– 4 cups chicken broth
– 2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped
(optional)
– Leftover cooked meat, chopped
such as bacon, chicken, fish (optional)
– Fresh herbs to garnish (optional)

For my soup, I used: leftover steamed cauliflower and carrots as the base, then leftover steamed green beans and cooked bacon chopped and added in after blending the base. That’s just what I had in my fridge, and it came out great! You see…

The beauty of this soup is that the ingredients can be widely varied to suit what you happen to have on hand in the fridge. Making the most of leftovers is one of the best ways to ensure you always have interesting primal meals ready in a jiffy. So every time you cook up some meats and veggies, always make extra so you have a variety of deliciousness in your fridge for the next meal. Read The Basics of Lovin’ Leftovers for more on this!

Boost your immunity with everyday superfoods

What makes this soup such an immune booster is all of its superfoods. No, there are no goji berries, maca powder or chia seeds. Just real organic nutrient-dense plant and animal foods, as I talk about in The Only Superfoods You’ll Ever Need.

Soup is a superfood powerhouse meal, combining vegetables and meats with bone broth, which is liquid gold for your body. Add to that ginger, garlic and chili, known for their antifungal, antibacterial and healing properties, in addition to all the micro-nutrients they provide, and top it off with healing herbs.

A blender, leftovers and broth are all you need for quick nutritious soup
A blender, leftovers and broth are all you need
for quick nutritious soup

Immune Boost Soup Recipe

Step 1: Saute the diced celery or carrot for a couple minutes in a medium-hot pot with your favourite cooking fat like butter, coconut oil, or tallow.

Step 2: Add the chopped ginger, garlic and optional chilies and saute for another minute or two, being careful not to burn the garlic. If using leftover roasted garlic, simply squeeze the garlic out of it’s skin into the pot.

Step 3: Add the stock, plus the leftover veggies you want to use as your base (blended part of soup), such as any combination of cauliflower, sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot.

Step 4: Heat and stir for a minute, then blend everything with a hand blender or in batches in a blender.

Step 5: Stir in any chopped leftover vegetables and meats you desire, such as green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, bacon, and chicken.

Step 6: Heat through, then salt and pepper to taste. If you have some, garnish with fresh coriander (cilantro), basil and/or parsley and extra chilies.

Make a soup to suit your tastes and boost your immune system
Make a soup to suit your tastes
and boost your immune system

 

Do you love soup? What leftover meat and veg combinations did you or will you use for your immune boosting soup? Share your impromptu recipes!

 

 

Meat Part 4 – What Makes Meat Lean and Tender?

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video, ‘Meat Part 4 – What Makes Meat Lean and Tender?’

Bex: Andrew, I’ve learned a lot about meat from you, in my time shopping here. The one thing, that you have talked about is how aging makes the meat very tender, especially grass fed meat; which tends to be tough.

Andrew: Yes it can be a little tougher…

Bex: Tell me more about the aging process. Is it long or short? Do all butchers do that?

What makes meat lean and tender?

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Andrew: Not all butchers do that. All butchers used to do that. In certain western countries, the health and safety departments have tried to stop aging, which has led to a lot of consumption of tough meat, because aging is very important to allow all the fibres in the meat just to relax and all the microbes to go to work and  tenderise the meat. The reason why we age our meat here, is because grass-fed lacks a little bit of a marbling that you will get from grain-fed meat, so in its natural state it is a little a bit tougher than its grain-fed equivalent, so in order to combat that here in Brookvale meats, we buy yearling grade meat, which is young, therefore tender and we also just hang it for 7 to 10 days. So we cut the body up, and we hang the ‘primals’ which are all the T-bones, and the Sirloins, and the Yorks and the Rumps  – we hang those for 7 to 10 days. Just so nature can go to work on it, just tenderise it a little bit.

What makes meat lean and tender?
Andrew explains to Bex what makes meat lean and tender

Now, the aging process can go on for months and months, if you got the correct microbial environment. We haven’t invested in the thousands and thousands of dollars you would need for special cool rooms to age your meat for three months. That’s NOT what we do here. We are aging our meat specifically to try and tenderise it a little bit, so grass-fed meat which is inherently tougher than grain-fed can be as soft and tender as the grain-fed equivalent, if you buy it from here.

Bex: That would explain a lot about why grass-fed meat would be better than grain-fed meat for people who are concerned about their health and weight loss and fat consumption, because, what you’re saying is that the grass-fed meat is tougher because it has less fat?

Andrew: It’s only slightly tougher. Because it has less fat in it. It’s less marbling, which is that grainy texture running through the meat of the steak, which chefs in restaurants prize.

But the health benefits of grass-fed meat is well-documented, well, well-documented. Search the internet. You’ll immediately see there are many benefits of grass-fed over grain-fed. The benefits to your heart, your brain, some of the essential acids that your body needs to operate healthily…much,much higher levels in grass-fed meat. So, why would you want to eat grain-fed meat? Why?

Bex: Exactly!

Andrew: Why bother, when it’s (grass-fed) healthier to eat. Grass-fed, it is a misconception that it’s more expensive. I mean if you go the cheapest butcher in town, we (Brookvale Meats) will be a tiny bit more expensive. But we’re talking about pennies, cents. We’re not talking about large differences in prices, only very little fractions. Yeah, the animals have done lots of wandering around the paddock, and had a full life. If that’s not worth paying an extra 3 or 4 percent for, then I don’t know what is.

Bex: I couldn’t have said it better.

Andrew (in reference to their cuts in a fridge): Okay, here at Brookvale Meats, we buy in whole carcasses direct from farms and then we bring them in and we break them down. Boris here has worked with us for nearly 40 years so he knows a few things about breaking down animal carcasses. Now, one of Boris’ jobs is to break down the whole body into what are called the ‘primals’ and the primals are different, aren’t they Boris? So what do you have there?

Borris: Sirloin Steaks.

Andrew: Sirloin Steaks, also know as a New York cut. Porterhouse?

Borris: Same thing. It’s all the same.

Andrew: So the T-bone, on one end has the Porterhouse going through it and sometimes the T-bone has the eye fillet on the other end.  In here (pointing to the fridge), the carcasses are de-boned, the primals are hung up to age  for about a week to 10 days trying to tenderise them. That’s how it’s done!

Bex: Just to conclude, is there anything else that you would recommend that consumers ask a butcher, when they’re looking for a butcher with good quality meat.

Andrew: I think it’s not a question of asking the butcher necessarily,  it’s just a question of getting to know your butcher. Whether it’s Brookvale Meats or any other reputable butchers, there are plenty of decent butchers on the Northern Beaches (and the world!). It’s a question of getting to know your butchers, so that you can find out: where it’s coming from, what it’s been eating, what are you putting on the table, recommendations, what’s good this week?  My daughter can’t eat fats, so what cuts are better? My son is allergic is to nitrates, have you got any ham or bacon that hasn’t got nitrates? It is just the question of getting to know your butcher, to allow your butcher to do what he wants to do, just help you buy what you need.

Bex: Fantastic.

Andrew: Just develop a relationship with your butcher, wherever it is.

Bex: Fantastic.

Bex: Well, thank you so much for taking the time today to explain that to us…

Andrew: Thank you so much for giving the opportunity to.

Bex: …so that we can make better choices about food.

 

Other videos in this series:

Meat Part 1 – You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!
Meat Part 2 – Do You Know Where Your Meat Comes From?
Meat Part 3 – What is Free Range, Grass Fed, Organic Meat?