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My Daily Kitchen

So Easy… Dill Goat Cheese!

August 29, 2015

I purchased a quart of fresh goat’s milk at the market and decided to make my own flavored  cheese. It was astonishingly simple to do…a nearly effortless process, and the result was delicious, subtle flavored with dill and pepper. Plus, the process gave me control over the amount of salt I wanted to use.

DO NOT BE DAUNTED by the list below. I have outlined each step I took. It is easy, easy, easy. The entire process took me maybe 15 minutes.

Goat’s milk is generally considered to be beneficial in ways that cow’s milk is not. For a list of benefits CLICK.

Now you can make your own flavored cheese. I chose Dill because I had some, and it’s light and versatile.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN GOAT CHEESE

  • Pour  1 quart or liter of fresh Goat Milk into a saucepan. Add to this:
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of finely chopped, fresh Dill
  • 1 Teaspoon of good quality salt (or less, just to your taste).
  • Shake in about 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Stirring, bring the mixture to near boiling. The surface will develop small, foamy bubbles and the pan will emit sweet smelling steam. Avoid a rolling boil.
  • Turn off the fire.
  • Now for the magic!  Right into your hot milk & herb mixture, add 1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar, or fresh citrus.
  • Stir a few times and walk away for a few minutes. (Your milk will curdle and the whey will separate.)
  • Find a nice bowl over which you can securely set a strainer.
  • Line your strainer with a large coffee filter
  • Spoon or pour all your mixture, liquid and all, over the filter.
  • Let sit & drain until all the liquid is gone and only the firm white cheese remains.
  • Scoop this dryer into a new, clean coffee filter & gently squeeze into a small ball.
  • Set the wrapped ball on a little dish, like the one below. Now set another dish on top, for weight.
  • Leave this in the refrigerator overnight or until chilled & firm
  • Voila! You have an easy, nice, tasty and firm cheese.

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TIPS:  Eat it sliced on crackers, or sprinkle it atop an omelette. Add it to sandwishes or garnish soups with it. Sprinkle it or arrange nice slices on your next healthy salad.

This is a super fun project to do with kids!

My Daily Kitchen

Delicious Power Salad…Hold the Dressing!

August 20, 2015

There are no rules to my salads except one: I never use store-bought dressing. In fact, I hardly use any oils at all, even the healthy ones.

You can throw anything you want into your salad, but the more super foods you can add, the more your salad becomes an energy-sustaining meal, instead of a light side dish or starter.

Denser food items will keep you feeling full longer and smooth out blood sugar levels longer. By the way, there is very little oil in this salad, making it heart-healthy.

2 STEPS TO PUTTING IT TOGETHER

  • First, I grab a  couple of handfuls of already washed, very dark, leafy lettuces.
    Generally speaking, the darker the green,  the higher the nutrient content.
    I added arugula, which I try to keep on hand. Also, you can sneak in your beet tops. See BEET NOTES, below.
  • Next, I tossed in just few shakes of my favorite seasoned salt (here, I used Lemon Pepper, but sometimes I use Cajun Seasoning, or Cavender’s, or Lawry’s.  Whether you have Dollar Store spices, or fancy mixes from boutique or organic vendors, surely you have some favorite seasonings. Use them. Sprinkle in a little at a time.)
  • Next, I squeezed in about a teaspoon of lemon juice, since I used only a few handfuls of lettuce.
  • Then, and here is the surprise, I added only two or three shakes of extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil.

With these ingredients in my large bowl, I use my favorite Dollar Store scissors to cut (right hand) and spin the bowl (left hand) which chops and incorporates the lettuces, lemon, oil and seasoning.

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Now,  cover a dinner plate with this tossed, seasoned and chopped lettuce mix.

Separately, chop and set aside these ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of loosely chopped, Roasted Walnuts
  • 1/4 cup ripe Avocado
  • 1/4 cup sliced, sweet Plantain
  • 1/4 cubed, ripe Tomato
  • 1/4 cup sliced, then cubed Artichoke hearts, from a can.
  • 1/4 cut fresh (boiled earlier) beets. *See note below on beets!
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced Onion, white or red.

Arrange these remaining ingredients around your lettuce in a way that appeals. Start with the darker items, like the beets, which will serve as a nice backdrop to offset the lighter items, such as plantain, avacado, tomato.
Onions and walnuts go on last.

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TIPS:  If you really can’t wrap your head around beets, or think you can trick your family into them,  think about adding steamed carrots or heart of palm.

If you need more protein, go ahead and add a boiled egg or some lovely turkey breast. Grapes, raisens, apples, olives … and a little flax seed could also add some tang and substance.

DRESSING TIPS: Rather than douse your greens with oils, in addition to lemon and seasonings, toss in a bit of your artichoke, olive, or pickle juice. Squeeze in a spritz of orange or mandarin juice. Or pineapple. All these liquids can add zing to a dressing without adding oils!

*BEET TIPS: People routinely make the comment: “I hate beets.”
Maybe they do. Or maybe the think they do.
Beets are very nutritious and I think, misunderstood. If served right, they are a surprisingly beautiful addition to dishes. And sometimes easy to disguise!  Here are my beet tips:

  • Boil your own beetroot but not until squishy. When you use them in a salad, they will still have a firm feel, even a crunch. And they really tend to take on the flavor of your dressing.
  • Keep them cold, in their boiling juice, until ready to use
  • Chop them small and mix them into dark lettuce. People hardly notice.
  • SAVE the beet tops. The leaves are even more nutritious than the root and, you can chop these into your lettuces! Who will know?
  • Beets can be processed raw and are lovely when combined with onion, mandarin, even a little citrus rind.  Try them in a bowl with onion and Blue Cheese! Dreamy….
  • You can save and use the beautiful magenta juice in dressings, or even drink it.
My Daily Kitchen

Crave This? I Have Something Better!

August 19, 2015

Real Advice & Help from a Bona Fide Sugar Addict

Before you reach for that chocolate bar, the bag of caramels, a piece of cake or whatever you have handy to satisfy a desperate and uncontrollable desire for something sugary,  take just a few minutes to prepare this. Then, it up in a pretty dish, and eat it lovingly, savoring every satisfying spoonful. It will fullfil your sweet tooth comletely, and you won’t find yourself making false promises about doing better with your diet…tomorrow.

I crave all things super sweet. Not only that, they have to be satisfyingly sweet. A yogurt doesn’t quite cut it for me. Not enough substance. I’d prefer two chocolate puddings, preferably with  tapioca. When I eat ice cream, I crumble cookies or candy into my scoop for added sweet and texture.  I love f licorice, and white and mild chocolate. I learned at an early age how to boil up a can of condensed, Evaporated milk to make “cajeta” or caramel, which I could then eat by the spoonful, or, still warm, pour over Angel food cake.  I like anything sweet but especially sweets that are really and truly bad, the kind of bad that will make my blood sugar shoot to the moon.
And oh the cravings. I crave sugar every single day, and when I want it, I have to have it. No white knuckling it for this gal. I’ve been know to say I’d step over my own baby to get to a bag of candied orange slices. I especially want a sweet treat after a good meal, or when hours have slipped without eating. I want sugar any time of day that I happen to feel bored, sad, or happy. If I’m watching the Food Channel on television, I muster up continual cravings for any sweet dish that comes up on my screen.

I hope from this you can trust that I would not recommend a recipe to satisfy a genuine sweet tooth unless I meant business. While the recipe below is sweet, for sure, it is also nutrient rich and… there is no added sugar!

TIP: Try a healthy sweet treat like this around 2pm or 3pm to steady your appetite until dinner. Better yet, have it for dessert instead of cookies and ice cream! You won’t be disappoinged.

SWEET TOOTH SMOOTHIE

imagePut these ingredients in a blender, lightly chopped to ease the processing:

1/2 cup Sweet Plantain
1/2 cup Ripe Avacodo
2 slices  of Fresh or Canned (no sugar added) Pineapple
1/2 cup light or regular Coconut milk
2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice (or lime)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 packet of good quality Stevia
Blend-to-puree well, then pour into your favorite glass.  Now,  lace the top with a layer of Coconut Milk and eat slowly … with a spoon…savoring every sweet drop.

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HOT TIPS for a COLDER TREAT:

  1. Better than serving on ice, or adding ice cubes to the mix, which will only result in a watered down version, freeze lemon juice or coconut milk in a ice cube tray and use these for your smoothie.
  2. Freeze portions nearly all the way for an icy treat;
  3. Freeze in paper cup w/stick for home-made ice pops.

 

Comfort Food

Sweet Tooth, Vegan Style!

August 18, 2015

I’m addicted to sugar. And I mean just that — addicted.

I can pass up a glass of wine or a a tall, cold martini, but if I were in the throes of a serious sugar craving, I’d probably step over my first born child to get to the candy corn.

So anytime I can find a healthy way to satisfy my craving for sweet, I share it.
The trick is to be prepared.
Always, always have Stevia on hand. (You can grow it, but it is not as easy to process as some say. And you can purchase it in handy droplets.)
And something citrus, like lemon, lime, calamandron, mandarin or orange.
Finally, keep handy a good flavor essence, such as vanilla or lemon or coconut extract on hand.

DREAMY PLANTAIN & AVACADO TREAT

Into a large bowl, toss:

  • One large, sweet Plantain, or two medium Bananas, finely chopped
  • Add finely cubed, ripe Avacado, about 1/3 of the amount of your Plantains
  • Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Add drops or packets of Stevia, to taste
  • Squeeze in 1/4 of a lemon, checking to see that it isn’t making your dish too tart
  • Mix all the above ingredients up, tossing well to fully coat with sweet, sour and vanilla
  • Spoon into a dish and douse with Coconut Milk
  • Garnish (not shown) with some fresh mint

FUN ALTERNATIVES:

Exchange Lemon for Lime, or Mandarin or any citrus of your choice.
Exchange Vanilla Extract for Lemon Extract for a really lemony taste… plus add some pretty zest!

For kids, blend everything together and spoon into individual dishes.
Chill, and then sprinkle with Coconut Flakes.
Voila! Banana/Avacado Pudding!

 

 

 

Comfort Food

Vegan-Ease …with Spice!

August 16, 2015

Taro Root has a surprisingly creamy, buttery taste on it’s own.
So when you do add some zip, it’s even better.
Taro is an interesting and different alternative to the white potato, plus, it’s easier on your blood sugar load.

To Prepare Creamy, Spicy Taro

  • Peel 4 good sized taro roots
  • Cut them into chunks
  • Cover with water, about an inch
  • Toss in a full tablespoon of fresh, or dried, rosemary
  • Add a teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes
  • Add a teaspoon of salt to the pot
  • Boil together as you would potatoes, about 20 minutes, or until you can pierce a chuck with a fork.
  • Drain away the water and don’t worry that much of the Rosemary and Pepper Flakes will wash away. Enough will remain.
  • Stir in a spoonful of Earth  Balance butter substitute

TIP: This would be easily just as yummy with Fresh Parsley, but tossed in at the end, after the boiling is done. I would use about 1/4 cup.

Breakfast

Easy, Fluffy French Toast

July 29, 2015

Here is how I make the fluffiest French Toast, with a good portion of healthy protein in each serving.

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PREPARATION  1 Serving

  •  Select 2 large pieces of your favorite bread, leaving crusts on. Any bread will do: White, whole wheat, French, it doesn’t matter.
  • Into bowl, break 2 fresh, cage-free eggs (one whole egg for each piece of bread!)
  • Add  2  Tablespoons of heavy cream. Half & Half will do, but I prefer heavy cream
  • Add  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Add 1 packet of Stevia (or a teaspoon of sugar)
  • Beat the egg mixture up until well-blended and fluffy.
  • Pour the mixture into a shallow dish that will hold your bread  snugly,  without leaving too much space. You can use a small baking dish or rectangle cake pan. Something shallow and that will contain the bread without a lot of extra space.
  • Place your bread into the mixture and let it sit for a good 2-3 minutes.
  • Now, very gently, flip each piece of bread and allow to remain until all the egg mixture is soaked up.

COOKING IT UP

  • Melt 3 tablespoons of butter or butter substitute into your favorite skillet or frying pan.
  • When the pan is good and hot, but not enough to burn the butter, gently place your soaked bread into the  pan.
  • Immediately turn the heat down to medium low.
  • Leave the bread to cook for several minutes, until the bottoms of the bread are golden brown and you notice the center is becoming firm as the inner egg mixture cooks up.
  • You will know your bread is ready to flip over when the middle is firm enough that it does not sag or fall apart when lifted with a spatula.
  • Cook another minute or two, until the bottoms are brown and the center feels firm.
  • Cut bread pieces in half (I use scissors) and arrange nicely  on a nice plate.
  • Set a dipping cup along side filled with real Maple Syrup.
  • Garnish with whipped cream or….sift some powdered sugar on top!

This dish is definitely made With Love & Butter…

Breakfast

Low-carb potato substitute!

July 20, 2015

Two foods I love to eat with scrambled eggs are sliced, cold tomatoes and, of course, potatoes. Any style will do, but sliced thin and fried in bacon greese is tasty.

Ah, but I’m eating low carb these days. So instead of potatoes, I sliced up some Chayote from my garden.

Chayote, eaten cooked or raw, has about 1/4 the carbohydrates of potatoes, but offers up the same amount of fibre.

For the Chayote:

Peel 1 medium or 2 very small Chayotes under running water.

  1. Slice the entire piece into sticks, seed included, or in any shape you desire.

Now toss into a very hot pan laced with your choice of oil: olive oil, healthy butter, coconut oil, bacon grease.

  1. Toss in 1/2  thinly sliced  Onion. (set aside rest for later)
  2. Sprinkle with salt & pepper

Cook on medium heat until they begin to bown a bit.
Now flip then and leave to brown all over stirring occasionally.

NOTE: Chayote do not take long to soften.

For some Flavorful ScrambledEggs: (2 Servings)

While the Chayote is cooking, get your eggs ready to scramble. Into a favorite bowl, crack 4-5 large,  free-range eggs and to these add:

  • 1 Teaspoon water per whole egg
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 8 Drops Sriracha hot sauce (or fewer, but you will hardly notice the heat.)
  • Whisk this mixture up well
  • Chop 1 a cup of Broccoli into very small pieces.
  • Finely chop the other half of the onion
  • Toss broccoli & onion into a hot frying pan laced with hot oil or bacon grease or butter of choice and sautee for 1 minute.
  • Add your entire egg mixture right on top of you broccoli & onion, stir to incorporate, and wait until the layer begins to bubble. Then slowly draw the edges in toward the center to make a fluffy scramble. I like mine on the soft side, but plate up when they’re done your way.

Plate your eggs.
Garnish with Fresh Cilantro or Fresh Parsley or Chive.
Scoop on a healthy spoonful of your browned & seasoned Chayote sticks.
Crown your place with soe beautiful, sliced tomatoes & sprinkle with some seasoned salt.
Now dig in! You won’t miss the potatoes and your carb count will be low!

To you with Love & Butter, Elizabeth

 

 

 

Main Dishes

A new way to serve Veggie sides

June 4, 2015

Instead of serving the usual side of steamed cauliflower, why not serve your main vegetable side as a pancake!
Cauliflower
Cakes:

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You can toss all your ingredients, all at once, into a bowl, as in the photo.

  • 1 Cup of Cauliflower, processed into rice-size morsels
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Baking Mix
  • 1/2 Cup of Pesto Sauce
  • 1/3 Cup milk, or enough to blend into pancake consistency
  • Salt & Pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl until completely blended.
If your mix is too dry, add milk. If too wet, add some more Baking Mix.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of Clarified Butter OR Coconut Oil OR Olive Oil and then spoon into a hot frying pan.  Cover pan and immediately reduce heat to low.  When pancakes are solid enough to flip, turn them and cook the other side for about 1 minute, or until done.

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Tip: For a little zing, add about 5 drops of Sirracha or favorite hot sauce.

My Daily Kitchen

Jazz up Quinoa!

May 18, 2015
  1. I love, love, love white rice, but bleached, white rice is not the healthiest way to go, especially for those with nsulin resistance, or worse, diabetes.

Quinoa to the rescue!  (pronounced Keen-wah.) Oh, Quinoa … let me count the ways and the whys that I love thee!

Being technically a seed, Quinoa  is free of gluten. Not only that, it’s packed with 5 grams of fiber, which makes it a healthier carbohydrate choice for low-carb. eaters.  It also has a good amount of protein and it’s full of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, B-vitamins, and more. Quinoa is simply a super easy, super-food!

Preparing Basic Quinoa is as easy as… rice!

  1. Fill a pot with 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa (for example, 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rinsed Quinoa.  Most purchased quinoa s already rinsed for you, but if it does not specify rinsed on the packaging, then rinse).
  2. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
  3. Cover with a good lid, and walk away for 15-20 minutes.  When the seeds “pop,” your quinoa is cooked!
  4. You may leave the lid on. You do not need to refrigerate right away.

Here are a few tricks I like to use for jazzing up my Quinoa side dishes.

  1. Adding a small portion of rice makes a big difference in the “fluff” factor and also make this more expensive food item last a bit longer.  This little tip is also  great for kid,s like mine, who have grown up where rice is a staple at most meals.  They can be used to the texture and resistant to eating the healthier seed.Here is what I do: I sneak in 1 part rice to 3 parts Quinoa. You can use more or less according to your liking & also your pocketbook, but I use about 1/4 cup white rice to 3/4 cup Quinoa. Because the two ingredients are cooked in the same manner, you don’t need to do anything special. Your Quinoa will come out fluffier, and you and your eaters will enjoy all the health benefits of a healthy carb. without the guilt!
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    3 parts quinoa to 1 part white rice.

    Note:  If you prefer to mix your Quinoa with whole-grain, brown rice, simply add the Quinoa to your pot 15 minutes before the brown rice is cooked to completion. Par boiled brown rice cooks up in about the same time as white rice, but whole grain, uncooked brown rice can take as long as 40 minutes! Quinoa never takes that long, so be aware of the timing.

  2. For Super Healthy Quinoa, chop a small head, or half of a large head, of cauliflower in a food processor until the cauliflower bits are the size of large bread crumbs.When your Quinoa/Rice is 3 – 5 minutes from completion, just add a cup or a cup and a half of chopped cauliflower right on top, replace the lid, and let the cauliflower steam up with the rice/quinoa mixure!  Once your stove is off, and your quinoa/rice has sat a few minutes, you can mix gently with a spoon to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
    Note: Your children will not notice the cauliflower, as you can see in the photo!

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    Quinoa w/1/4 rice & lots of cauliflower!

  3. Jazz up the flavor by cooking  your quinoa or quinoa/rice in stock. Use chicken for meat-
    eaters, or vegetable for the non-meat eaters!
  4. Add 1 or 2 whole teeth of garlic to your liquid, and remove when the dish is cooked.
  5. Go ahead and experiment, adding other, colorful chopped vegetables to your dish. When  using carrots or longer-cooking veggies, just add them 1o minutes into the cooking so they have enough time to steam up to a softer texture.
  6. Store your cooked Quinoa or Rice/Quinoa in the fridge. Then heat up when you need it. I like to warm it for breakfast and serve with a poached egg on top.
  7. Treat it as if it were rice. Below, Quinoa with 1/4 white rice & Cauliflower, Prawns in Ghee with garlic & lemon, on salad.

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    Quinoa w/1/4 rice, 1/3 cauliflower; Prawns sauteed in ghee w/garlic & lemon, atop a salad.

 

 

Breakfast

Healthy Craving Fixer

May 10, 2015

imageAs a little girl, no trip to “the city”, a.k.a, New York City was complete until, at my mother’s pleading, my dad pulled the car over at 86th and 3rd, to fullfil her craving for the then exotic fruit, slightly odd tasting fruit, papaya,  always available at the now historical Papaya King.   She adored this gorgeously colored fruit which, to my young palette tasted a bit, well, off. Still,  I loved anything coconut, and a trip to Papaya King meant a coconut treat for me!

As I grew up and traveled some,  my taste buds came on board. In the Southern Philippines, I learned to stab a slice of fresh papaya with my fork, and then fill the tiny rows of holes with fresh squeezed Calamansi, a kind of citrus, not quite like a lemon or a lime, but these will do.

calamansiIt was here that I also learned  to love crisp, tart, unripe, green papaya, sliced into sticks, then dipped in vinegar and spicy salt. Later, in New York City, I learned you can julienne green papaya to add to salads and savory dishes.

 

Calamansi

green papayaIn Mexico and in Panama, I came to love thick fruit smoothies, either alone or paired with bananas or pineapple or strawberries.  I cut the papaya into cubes and store it in bags in the freezer. This way my smoothies are cold and fruity, undiluted by water or ice cubes.

Today,  I enjoy teaming my papaya up with the taste of coconut, which I still adore.

But when I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic (I have corrected this with my diet), I steered away from sweets, including fruits in general, since sugar is sugar… isn’t it?

With a Glycemic Index value of 59, Papaya is generally considered a “medium” sugar threat.  And now for the good news: On the Glycemic Load Index, papaya measures at a low 10.

The Glycemic Load refers to the body’s response to sugars by taking into account both the quantity of carbohydrates as well as the type of carbohydrates. For a detailed explanation of glycemic values and how they are calculatedClick Here.  In short, this means that eating papaya occasionally, especially if paired with other foods, doesn’t necessarily cause blood sugars to spike.

When I have a true craving for something sweet, I make this delicious treat using only four healthy ingredients.

1 Cup papaya, diced.
2 Heaping tablespoons coconut milk (I like to spoon it on, chilled)
1 Tablespoon crushed flax seeds (easy to crush up in a coffee grinder!)
1 Slice of Lemon or Lime

TIP:  Keep papaya cubes cold and handy by freezing them. Then, use the same above ingredients to blend into a  fresh smoothie, and, if you are feeling festive, add and ounce and a half of rum!