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Fresh herbs may be used in a variety of ways: making pesto, sprinkling on or mixing in salads (dill, parsley, and mint are my favorites), blending in smoothies (mint is refreshing), or topping on tacos and bowl-style meals (cilantro), as a soup flavoring, or sprinkling on meals.

Fresh herbs rot quickly if not properly stored. And there’s nothing more frustrating than spending money on a fresh ingredient only to find it to be unusable just a couple of days later.

If you want to enjoy a real food lifestyle, and approach this lifestyle from a budget, no-waste perspective (whatever that budget may be), it’s important to learn how to properly store fresh ingredients.

In the past, we’ve talked about the storage containers I use in my fridge to keep fresh food, well…fresh. Today, we’re going to dive deeper with the specific topic of storing fresh herbs.

How to Store Fresh Herbs

Cilantro, Parsley, Dill, Tarragon, Mint, and Basil

Soft herbs should be stored similarly to a bouquet of fresh flowers. Fill a jar (I use a short, wide mason jar) with a couple of tablespoons of fresh water. The amount of water you’ll need will depend on the herb (see picture below).

Trim off any brown spots at the very end of the stems, and place the stems in the water. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag. (I reuse bags. Or use a reusable silicone bag.) Secure the bag over the top of the mason jar with a rubber-band. Place the herbs in the fridge. The bag will keep the herbs from losing too much moisture in the fridge.

To maintain the herbs, change the water every few days, or as needed.

I’ve found that most herbs will keep for about two weeks when stored this way.

Basil is special because this particular herb doesn’t like extremely cold temperatures. Follow the same bouquet practice mentioned above, except skip the bag, and simply store the basil (in a jar filled with water) on the counter. If you feel the need to store basil in the fridge, place the jar in the door of the fridge–this is the warmest spot in the fridge. Change the water ever few days, or as needed.

Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Sage, and Chives

Hardier herbs keep best when placed in a single layer on a damp paper towel (or try a linen dish towel for a reusable option). Roll the herbs in the towel, and then place the rolled towel in a ziplock bag or reusable storage container. If you use a bag, let the air out of the bag before sealing.  If you use a cloth towel, you may want to change it out every few days. The herbs should be stored in the fridge, and usually keep for about 2 weeks.

Freezing Herbs

If you find that you’re not going to use a particular herb before it goes bad, try freezing the herb to avoid waste. There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Freeze the herbs in olive oil cubes.
  2. Make compound herb butter. Compound butter is made by combining butter with various herbs, lemon or orange zest, or even cinnamon and a sweetener. Use compound butter for a quick veggie saute, cooking eggs, spreading on fresh or toasted bread, tossing with pasta, or making garlic bread. An herb compound butter is a great way to put fresh herbs to use.  There are two options for freezing this butter: 1. Spoon the butter on parchment paper and then roll it up like a log. 2. Use a cookie dough scooper to form individual balls. Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze. Once solid, add the balls to a storage container and keep in the freezer until ready to use.
  3. Make a broth/stock bag. Keep a bag in your freezer and fill it with veggie scraps, including leftover rosemary, thyme, or parsley. Use this bag to create a flavorful base for your next homemade stock/broth.

To Pre-Wash or Not?

I didn’t mention anything about washing herbs before storing them. Personally, I don’t wash my herbs before storing them.

If you find that your herbs aren’t lasting, despite using good storage practices, wash and thoroughly dry your herbs before storing them. There may be decayed leaves, or bacteria, on the herbs that may could be causing the other leaves to rot faster than they should.

A salad spinner is a great tool to use for drying herbs since it speeds up the drying and hands-on time.

What’s your favorite way to store fresh herbs?

The post Real Food Hack: How to Store Fresh Herbs appeared first on Live Simply.

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When I first started meal prepping, I tried to make my meal prep sessions look like the images on Pinterest. And most of the time, I felt like a complete failure because I couldn’t do “all the things.” Of course, you probably know what happened next…

I quit.

I knew there must be some kind of balance to be found with meal prep–a way to prep without feeling overwhelmed each week.

I’m happy to share that I found that balance. And I’ve been on a mission to share my tips with fellow exhausted-by-all-the-prep people out there. This is why we talk so much about practical meal prepping tips and ideas here on Live Simply.

Meal prep is now based on my family’s schedule; not an image on Pinterest or Instagram.

Each week, after creating my meal plan (which comes from a list of rotated favorite meals, and occasionally a new meal to try), I sit down with my plan and calendar and ask myself, “What can I do right now to simplify our meals and life this week?”

Mornings are extra busy, particularly during the school year, so preparing a food that will simplify breakfast is usually my first answer. I also pack lunches in the morning, which is such a stressful activity if I’m not prepared in advance. This means getting a jump-start on lunch is typically my second answer. Dinner prep isn’t a priority for me, unless we have an usually busy evening on the calendar. If that’s the case, I’ve already planned to make something in the Instant Pot, or an easy dinner like burgers, quesadillas, or fajitas.<–Nothing that requires a ton of prep work.

Once I know what to focus on, based on our schedule, it’s time to take action and write down the food(s) to prep based on my meal plan. Usually this includes muffins or something that’s easy to serve alongside another breakfast option (i.e. yogurt, smoothies, or eggs). And for lunch, I like to focus on meal components, such as: cooking a whole chicken for shredded meat, cutting or roasting veggies, cooking a grain, making a salad dressing/dip. The idea is to make meal components that may be used in a variety of ways throughout the week. Other times, I may choose to prepare an actual prepped meal that can be stretched across multiple lunches, for multiple people.

I’m often asked how long it takes me to prep. The answer: one to several hours, depending on the priorities for that week. Some weeks are jam-packed, so spending a few hours in the kitchen on the weekend is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. And some weeks are more on the chill side, which means very little meal prep needs to be done on the weekend (hello, Netflix time!).

Here’s the key: Make meal prep work for you. Forget all the images you’ve seen on the internet, and just focus on what will work for you and your family. Think about your schedule and what you can do right now to help simplify the upcoming week. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to prep. Don’t let Pinterest fool you, like it did me. The goal of prepping is to simplify life; not complicate it.

Today’s recipe, Chicken and Veggie Fajitas, is an easy meal to make during a meal prep time.

As a lunch, the chicken and veggie mixture may be spooned over rice or quinoa, and then served alongside half an avocado (squeeze lime juice over the flesh to keep it from browning) and salsa. Combine everything (except the avocado) ahead of time in meal prep containers for a grab-n-go meal.

And I’m certainly not ruling the idea of making this meal for dinner. If you’re looking for an easy dinner (one that doesn’t require spending a ton of time in the kitchen), this recipe is for you.

Of course, the fajitas may also be served traditionally in corn or flour tortillas. Or try switching things up at dinner and make quesadillas. Spoon the filling over half of a tortilla, top with cheese, fold the other half over the filling, brush the top of the tortilla with oil, and then brown in a skillet. Another option is to serve the fajita filling over lettuce, an avocado, sour cream, and salsa for a taco salad-style meal. Maybe crush some tortilla chips over the top.

However you choose to serve the fajita mixture, I think you’ll love how quick and easy the meal is to make, and how well the chicken and veggies keep in the fridge if you choose to prep the filling in advance.

And one more thing. Remember when we talked about building capsule pantry? This meal is made up of pantry ingredients: chicken, peppers, onion, and a few seasonings. Another capsule pantry meal that can be added to your growing meal ideas list.

One-Skillet Sizzling Chicken and Veggie Fajitas (Meal Prep Option)

Quick and easy chicken-veggie fajitas with a simple homemade fajita seasoning mix. 

  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil (divided, or avocado oil)
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb chicken breasts (cut into 1” strips)
  • 2 bell peppers (thinly sliced, any color desired)
  • 1 poblano pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 large red onion (sliced, or a white or yellow onion)
Additional Serving Options:
  • 6-8 tortillas (or cooked rice/quinoa for a fajita bowl)
  • salsa
  • shredded cheddar cheese (or pepper jack cheese)
  • chopped cilantro
  • sliced avocado
  • sour cream
  • baby spinach (or lettuce)
  • shredded cabbage
  • lime wedges
Special Equipment:
  • large bowl
  • large skillet
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt, and garlic powder. Add the chicken to the bowl and gently toss the chicken in the marinade. Set the bowl aside so the chicken can marinate for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can place the chicken and marinade in a baggie or a container (with a lid) and let it rest in the fridge overnight or all day until you’re ready to make the fajitas.

  2. Warm a large skillet over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated chicken. Sauté until the chicken is cooked through, or about 7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet, and set aside.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the peppers and onions. Sprinkle the veggies with a pinch of salt to bring out their sweetness. Saute the veggies until they are soft and the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken back to the skillet, stirring to combine the chicken and veggies. Saute for another 5 minutes, or until the chicken and veggies are combined and heated through.

  5. Serve the fajita filling over warm corn tortillas (or rice or lettuce), with any additional serving options desired. 

No-Tortilla-Needed Meal Ideas: 

  1. The chicken and veggie mixture may be spooned over rice or quinoa, and then served alongside half an avocado (squeeze lime juice over the flesh to keep it from browning) and salsa. Combine everything (except the avocado) ahead of time in meal prep containers for a grab-n-go meal, or serve this in bowls.
  2. Make quesadillas with the filling: spoon the filling over half of a tortilla, top with cheese, fold the other half over the filling, brush the top of the tortilla with oil, and then brown in a skillet.
  3. Serve the fajita filling over lettuce, an avocado, sour cream, and salsa for a taco salad-style lunch meal. Maybe crush some tortilla chips over the top.

The post One-Skillet Sizzling Chicken and Veggie Fajitas (Meal Prep Option) appeared first on Live Simply.

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Before having babies, I took my clear skin for granted. Despite growing up on all the processed food, never using sunscreen (and living in Florida), and using really cheap and toxic makeup, my skin was in decent condition.  Sure, I had the occasional pimple and blackhead, but nothing that was problematic or worrisome.

Fast forward to my late twenties with two babies and a growing real food blog. I was trying to be “all things to all people.” I wasn’t sleeping due to motherhood and the desire to work non-stop on my new passion. I also stopped exercising and let stress rule my life.

During this time, I neglected myself. I’m talking about hard-core neglect. The neglect, and probably the years of eating processed food and using toxic skin products, eventually caught up with me via weight gain, acne, dark patches on my face, a hormone imbalance and gut issues (both of which I didn’t know about at the time), and major fatigue. My skin also began showing signs of premature aging. These should have been major red flags for me, but they weren’t. I figured this was just what mom life was all about. My doctor at the time agreed, “You’re just a tired mom. You’ll be fine.” 

Right after my daughter turned three, I saw a picture of myself on Facebook. I didn’t recognize myself. I looked tired and my skin and eyes didn’t have the same glow they once radiated. I made a decision that day to start taking better care of myself. No more skipped meals (ever wonder why I’m such an advocate for prepping food) or exercise, letting stress rule my life, using toxic skin products, or staying up until the wee hours to get stuff done. 

Once I started taking care of my body, my skin slowly began to improve as well. I like to think of this as a ripple effect. I’m finally at a place on my journey where I’m happy with my skin. My skin isn’t perfect, but perfection isn’t my goal. I have scars and still get the occasional breakout. My goal is healthy skin. And right now, my skin feels and looks healthy.

It’s been quite the journey to get to this place. A journey I’m still on, because taking care of myself is a daily commitment. In fact, if I’ve learned anything from my skin woes, it’s that I need to actively pursue taking care of my body. Nobody is going to do this for me. This is my job. I only get one body in this lifetime. 

I know I’m not the only woman who struggles with skin issues, particularly acne. I’ve received many messages from reader friends who feel frustrated with their skin. This topic is near to my heart, because I’ve had skin issues and I know my skin issues could easily return. I know what it’s like to wonder, “Why me? How can I be this old and have skin issues like this!” and wonder if my skin will ever improve. I know what it’s like to deal with confidence issues due to acne and scars. 

The skin is a complex organ, and every person is different. And it can serve as a reflection of our body’s overall health. There certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all prescription. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way over the years. So while I can’t offer such a plan, I can share what’s helped me–based on my own experimentation and working with professionals (naturopathic and functional medicine doctors and an esthetician). Today’s list is a compilation of the top practices that I believe have played a critical role in improving my skin. This list isn’t meant to diagnose, cure, or treat any condition. 

7 Practices That Improved My Skin
Practice 1: Focus on Gut Health

The gut-skin connection is fascinating. If you’re new to this idea, I highly recommend reading the book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin. The author is a dermatologist and her research on the gut-brain-skin connection is easy to understand and practical.

Supporting the microbiome in my gut with probiotic-rich foods and a probiotic supplement (something my esthetician recommends to all her clients) has played a significant role in improving my skin health. Probiotic-rich foods, include: kefir, plain yogurt with active cultures, some soft fermented cheese (real parmesan, cheddar, gouda, etc.), sauerkraut or kimchi, kombucha. My favorite probiotic supplement is from Garden of Life (this one, although I recommend purchasing it from the store since it needs to be refrigerated). This particular supplement is a prebiotic (feeds the microflora already in the gut) and probiotic (adds beneficial microflora to the gut). 

Along with focusing on probiotics, I recently took a gut test (stool test from DiagnosTechs)–a request from my functional medicine doctor. (My skin had significantly improved over the last couple of years. Something still seemed a bit “off,” so a functional medicine doctor was my next step.) This test provided an incredibly comprehensive look at my gut (even revealing a few parasites), and also showed that my gut wasn’t responding well to gluten. I removed all gluten for a set time period (3 months) and took a couple of supplements (Restore, Perm A Vite, Colostrum LD)  to aid in healing my gut. I also started taking a digestive enzyme with every meal (something my doctor recommends to all patients).

I’ve slowly started to bring gluten back into my diet, but only ancient grains and sourdough and in limited amounts (a couple of times a week). In the past, my skin would breakout when consuming heavy amounts of gluten, particularly processed gluten (highly-processed grains). I don’t appear to have this same reaction to ancient grains or sourdough breads.

If you’ve tried everything and you still feel like something is “off” when it comes to your skin health, I highly recommend seeing a functional medicine doctor who will take a look at the body as a whole.

Practice 2: Sleep 

It’s fascinating how much of an impact sleep can have on the overall appearance of my skin. To help me sleep, I take magnesium (the Whole Foods brand, or Natural Calm) and shut off all electronics an hour before bed (including social media). Eight hours is my “sweet spot.”

Practice 3: Eat Real Food

This is the premise that Live Simply was built on. It’s the three words that changed my family’s life. We spend a lot of time talking about real food around here, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this practice.  If you’re new to real food, or want a refresher, here’s a helpful chart.

Real food is wholesome, nutrient-rich, and simple. A real food lifestyle avoids overly-processed food products. How can you spot an overly-processed food product? Well, the ingredient list usually reads more like an advanced college textbook than a recipe. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, and you wouldn’t use them in your own kitchen, your body probably won’t recognize them either.

Practice 4: Supplement

I believe that real food should be our main source of nutrients and vitamins and minerals. And while real food is the ideal source for these things, sometimes we may need to use supplements to get what we need. I take a few supplements specifically for supporting my skin: Vitamin D3 (1000mg), Vitamin C (1000mg daily), zinc (10-15 mg daily), and cod liver oil (2 pills). I started routinely taking these supplements after listening to The Beauty of Dirty Skin and getting my blood work results back from my functional medicine doctor. Garden of Life is my favorite supplement brand at the moment. 

Practice 5: Nourishing, Non-Toxic Skincare

Along with taking care of the gut and eating nourishing foods, it’s important to use products that will nourish the skin versus harm it. You can read about my skincare routine over here.

I’m a firm believer in the importance of daily sun protection. I use a sunscreen oil on face during the day, and during the summer I use a SPF tinted moisturizer from W3LL People. I wrote a whole post on non-toxic sunscreen options over here.

When you have skin issues, like acne, it’s hard to go without makeup, but allowing the skin to breathe at least once a week is important. Go makeup free as often as you can, and remove your makeup at night before settling into bed.

Also, I‘ve been going to the same esthetician for a number of years now. She’s seen me through it all, and she’s been incredibly helpful with her tips and advice. If it’s in your budget, I recommend finding an esthetician that doesn’t push products on you, and one that’s more naturally-minded. In the beginning, I was able to afford a twice a year facial with Yana. Slowly, I was able to increase to quarterly facials. Right now, I visit Yana every two months. 

Practice 6: Manage Stress

Stress impacts our skin (premature aging, breakouts, etc.), weight, and gut. 

Here’s what I’ve found helps me manage stress: daily movement (I go to a barre class once a week, kickboxing twice a week, and stretch each morning), nightly reading (something I love), meal prepping (this is huge for reducing my weekly stress levels), delegating tasks (I don’t have to do “all the things”), having established routines for essential chores (laundry, kids going to school, meal planning) and waking up each morning before the kids. And one more thing, getting away helps to reduce my stress. Even if this is just an evening at the beach, or a day trip to a local park on the weekend, or maybe a pedicure appointment. There’s something about stepping away from the responsibilities of life (laundry, dishes, the calendar) with my family (or without, if I really need some alone time) that allows me to breathe, refocus, and feel refreshed. Taking time to do this–particularly as a mother- isn’t selfish; it’s essential. 

Do you know what else causes stress? Being overly-healthy. Yep, over-exercising, worrying about food, and trying to be perfect (i.e. cooking the perfect meal every night, having a Pinterest-perfect home, etc.). Let those things go. Move your body, but don’t stress yourself out. Eat real food, but don’t be that organic-all-things worrier. And realize that no one is perfect. I’m preaching to myself here, too.

In addition to lifestyle changes, my functional medicine doctor suggested (based on a hormone test from Access which found that my adrenals were “being taxed” and my cortisol levels were “off the charts”) that I take ashwagandha three times a day.

Practice 7: Hydrate

Drink water! It’s that simple. Occasionally, I’ll add a pinch of mineral salt (Real Salt brand) for the trace minerals and/or lemon (for flavor). But most of the time, plain ol’ water is my go-to drink. I keep my reusable water bottle with me at all times, and refill it throughout the day. When I’m not drinking enough water during the day, my skin looks and feels different. To start the day, I drink 1-2 big glasses of water before enjoying coffee.

Are there any practices that impact your skin health? We are all so unique, including what works best for our skin–whether that’s food, supplements, or skincare products. I would love to hear about your essential practices.

The post 7 Natural Practices That Improved My Skin (My Adult Acne Journey) appeared first on Live Simply.

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My love for ranch dressing started early, as it probably did for you (that is, if you love ranch). Ranch dressing was the “food” that convinced me, as a young child, that vegetables were safe and edible. My love for ranch continued until Dustin and I decided to eat “real food.”

This new lifestyle change meant that I had to be very savvy at reading ingredient lists on boxed and packaged food products. Have you ever read the back of a ranch dressing bottle?

There are quite a few real ingredients used to make the dressing. I know, surprising! Ingredients that I would use in my own kitchen: egg yolks,  vinegar, buttermilk, and seasonings. There are also some not-so-recognizable ingredients: monosodium glutamate, polysorbate 60 (also used in cosmetics as an emulsifier), and the very vague “natural flavors.”

I gave up on ranch dressing after making our lifestyle change, and slowly fell in love with veggies for their unique flavors and textures.

And then I had kids.

Kids that go to school and see other children’s lunchbox options.

A few months ago, after seeing her friend’s lunch, Londyn asked if I would pack a white dip in her lunch to enjoy with veggies (usually carrots, celery, or cucumbers). I knew she must be talking about ranch.

My first reaction was to find a “clean” store-bought option. After looking at Whole Foods, I found a couple of brands, but none of them passed the taste test. They just didn’t taste like ranch. And Londyn thought they were all too spicy. <–A word she uses often to describe an unpleasant food experience.

My next step was to create a homemade ranch. With a few basic seasonings (from my capsule pantry), a tub of sour cream, and kefir, I got to work. Londyn tasted the dressing after the initial test, and we tweaked it until the ultimate ranch dressing was created.

We’ve been making this dressing ever since that initial experiment. Londyn loves dipping her veggies in the ranch. And I love using the ranch as a salad dressing, tossed with whatever greens we may have in the fridge.

The dressing, or dip, is made with the simplest of ingredients: sour cream, kefir (a cultured, probiotic dairy food–good for the gut), fresh lemon juice, seasonings. It takes only five minutes to whisk the ingredients together and make what we think is the best ranch dressing.

Homemade Ranch Dressing / Dip with Kefir

The dressing, or dip, is made with the simplest of ingredients: sour cream, kefir (a cultured, probiotic dairy food-good for the gut), fresh lemon juice, seasonings. It takes only five minutes to whisk the ingredients together and make what we think is the best ranch dressing.

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir (or filmjolk, similar to kefir (Siggi's brand), or whole milk)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced, or 1 lemon juiced (based on taste preference))
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Equipment:
  • medium bowl
  • whisk
  • storage jar (with a lid)
  1. Add the ingredients to a medium-size bowl. Whisk to combine. 

  2. Serve immediately, or pour the dressing into a storage container with a lid and store in the fridge for up to a week. Use as a dressing or dip.

If want to use fresh seasonings, here’s what I would try in place of the dried spices: 1 garlic clove, minced in place of the garlic powder, 1-2 TB minced fresh parsley in place of the dried parsley, 1-2 TB chopped chives in place of the onion powder. Adjust seasonings to taste.

The post Homemade Ranch Dressing / Dip (with Probiotic Kefir) appeared first on Live Simply.

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Now that we have a pulled barbecue-style chicken recipe on the blog, it’s time to make a slaw to top off that chicken.

I’m not much of a coleslaw fan. In fact, I usually go out of my way to avoid coleslaw when it’s served at restaurants. Why do restaurants still offer coleslaw as a side option? Do people choose coleslaw when presented with the other options: french fries, seasonal veggie, a salad, or coleslaw. The answer: No!

<–Clearly I have strong feelings about coleslaw. 

Coleslaw itself is a very simple salad, and honestly quite appetizing. Carrots, onion, and cabbage are usually the main ingredients. Okay, maybe the ingredients on their own aren’t appealing–other than carrots–but they have potential. The unappetizing part, in my opinion, usually comes from the dressing. There’s just something about a warm mayo dressing, poured over cabbage, that just doesn’t sound so appealing. And the sogginess. It’s all too much.

After Helen worked on perfecting the barbecue chicken, I knew you would want a coleslaw to top or serve on the side of that chicken. So I got busy in the kitchen, determined to make a really good coleslaw. A coleslaw even I wouldn’t turn down.

After many tests, I discovered a couple of “tricks” that take traditional coleslaw from a “not going to order that” to “I’ll take the coleslaw, please!”.

Trick No. 1 Salted Cabbage: Salting the cabbage before making the slaw produces the best coleslaw.

Why?

Salting veggies with a high water content brings out the water in the veggies. This means you’re getting the water out of the cabbage before that water ruins the dressed salad. That extra water can result in soggy coleslaw. The kind of result that usually makes me opt for the roasted veggies.

Trick No. 2 Greek Yogurt: Once the water is removed from the cabbage (resulting in crunchy cabbage), and the remaining two salad ingredients are added to the cabbage, it’s time to make the dressing.

Coleslaw dressing is usually made with mayonnaise, along with a few other ingredients (sugar, mustard, seasoning). Using Greek yogurt adds a delicious amount of tang to the dressing, and the thick consistency of the yogurt makes for a great dressing base. The yogurt dressing is thick, but incredibly light once it’s mixed with the cabbage slaw. I personally don’t like slaw that’s drowning in a dressing. This dressing adds just enough flavor to the cabbage without overpowering the fresh veggies.

Thanks to the salting process, the slaw keeps in the fridge for a few days without getting soggy, watery, or gross. I find that the flavor of the slaw improves after it rests in the fridge overnight, but you can also enjoy immediately after making the dish. Serve the slaw as a side dish or on top of the southern pulled chicken.

Homemade Coleslaw with Greek Yogurt Dressing

An easy, from-scratch coleslaw made with only three ingredients and then topped with a Greek yogurt dressing. 

Coleslaw:
  • ½ large green cabbage (finely shredded (about 5 packed cups))
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ small sweet yellow onion (chopped (½ cup once chopped))
Dressing:
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TB pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 TB dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
Equipment:
  • large bowl
  • dish towel
  • colander
  • medium bowl
  1. Add the shredded cabbage to a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage, and work the salt into the cabbage with your hands. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. This will remove water from the cabbage, which can make for a soggy coleslaw. 

  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk to combine all the dressing ingredients in a medium-size bowl. 

  3. Pour the salted cabbage into a colander and rinse with fresh water. Place the cabbage on one half of an absorbent dish towel (you may want to layer two dish towels), layering a portion of the dish towel over the cabbage. Press on the top of the towel to remove water from the cabbage. I prefer to squeeze the dish towel, with the cabbage inside, over the sink.
  4. Rinse out the large bowl, and return the cabbage to the bowl, along with the remaining coleslaw ingredients: carrots and onions.
  5. Pour the sauce over the coleslaw and stir to combine. Serve the coleslaw immediately, or for best flavor allow the coleslaw to sit in the fridge for a few hours (covered).

I bet using sliced green onions in place of the sweet yellow onion would be a colorful twist on this dish. 

The post Homemade Coleslaw with Greek Yogurt Dressing appeared first on Live Simply.

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Summer is here and it’s zipping by quickly. So quickly that my kids only have a month left of summer vacation.

This week we’re going to focus on summer recipes. Three summer recipes to be exact: a southern pulled chicken (today), a homemade coleslaw with greek yogurt dressing, and a homemade version of a popular dip/dressing.

First, we’re going to start with a barbecue-style chicken. That’s a mouthful. But a necessary mouthful to adequately describe this recipe.

I consider the Tampa Bay Area (our home) to be somewhat “southern.” Although it’s often said that you have to go north (in Florida) to truly “go south” (Tennessee, Georgia, etc.). We’ve also traveled extensively throughout the south, so I’d like to think that I’ve had some really good barbecue. Today’s recipe–an easy, homemade take on classic southern-style chicken–is exactly the kind of meal that’s served at a good ol’ southern barbecue stand/restaurant.

If you’re looking for a fun, delicious, hands-off recipe for the Fourth of July, or a backyard get together or a weeknight meal, this recipe should be on your list. The recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don’t have to turn on the oven or even light the grill.

The sauce is made on the stove-top. I know, it would be so convenient to allow the sauce to simmer and thicken in the Instant Pot alongside the chicken, but from our experience this just doesn’t produce the best results. Even with this extra step, the recipe is exactly what a summer meal should be: effortless, delicious, and so easy.

As mentioned, you’ll need an Instant Pot to cook the chicken. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, yet, you may be able to use a slow-cooker.

Chardea, who works behind-the-scenes at Live Simply, took this recipe (which was perfected by Helen) and made it in her slow-cooker the other night. Here’s what she texted me after dinner,” So, I started with frozen chicken. I rinsed it so there wasn’t any ice on it. Kinda think I should have let it defrost but didn’t have time. Sauce was perfect. I added a tiny bit of water to the chicken, I think it still came out a little dry, but I didn’t have dark meat (chicken thighs)–just chicken breasts.  And the onions didn’t cook all the way though. So all in all it was still really good, chicken pulled apart nice, flavor was there, just a tad bit dry (again, only breasts). The dark meat definitely helps.”

Chardea cooked the chicken and sauce (unlike the Instant Pot recipe, which separates the sauce and meat) for 3 hours on high. I wonder if 6 hours on low would have helped soften the onions–something the Instant Pot masters in just a few minutes. If you try this recipe in the slow-cooker, I recommend making it when you’re home so you can keep an eye on the sauce and chicken.

Later this week, we’re going to make a homemade slaw to top off the pulled chicken. The slaw provides the perfect amount of crunch to the saucy, tender chicken. And when you combine the slaw and today’s pulled chicken on a bun (maybe even a homemade einkorn bun, if you want to turn on your oven), and maybe even a crunchy pickle...barbecue joint perfection. The kind of perfection everyone needs to experience at least once this summer.

Instant Pot Southern Pulled Barbecue-Style Chicken (Pressure Cooker Recipe)

If you’re looking for a fun, hands-off recipe for the Fourth of July, or a backyard get together or a weeknight summer meal, this recipe should be on your list. The recipe takes advantage of the hands-off nature of the Instant Pot to perfectly cook the chicken. This means you don’t have to turn on the oven or even light the grill. 

Chicken Dry Rub:
  • 1 TB paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Chicken:
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium white onion (or sweet yellow onion )
  • 1 cup water
Sauce:
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 2 TB light brown sugar (dark brown sugar would also work)
  • 2 TB honey
  • 1 TB yellow mustard
  • 1 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
Special Equipment:
  • small bowl
  • Instant Pot
  • medium saucepan
  • large bowl
  1. Mix all the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Trim any large pieces of fat off of the thighs. Cut chicken breasts in half so they are similar in size to the thighs. Add all the chicken to a bowl.
  3. Add the dry rub to the chicken, and rub/mix to evenly coat the chicken. 

  4. Pour water into the Instant Pot liner. Layer chicken in the water.

  5. Cut the onion into ½-inch half rounds* and layer over chicken.
  6. Secure the lid and set to Sealing. Set the Instant Pot to Manual, High Pressure for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, add all the sauce ingredients to a medium-size saucepan, whisk to combine, and let simmer over low heat while the chicken cooks.
  8. Once the cooking cycle for the chicken is completed, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing remaining pressure (use a towel or hot pad holder).

  9. Remove the cooked chicken and onions to a clean bowl and discard the cooking liquid in the Instant Pot.

  10. Shred the chicken with two forks and stir in barbecue sauce. Serve warm. 

*Slice the onion in half (root to tip) and then cut ½-inch half circles.

The amount of sauce is perfect for the batch of chicken. You won’t have any extra to add to the top of the sandwiches. I personally don’t think extra sauce is needed. If you wanted more sauce, you could either double the sauce (freezing extras for future sandwiches) or use a store-bought barbecue sauce as a topping.

If you want to save time, you could make the sauce in advance and freeze it. Or store it in the fridge for up to a week.

The post Instant Pot Southern Pulled Barbecue-Style Chicken (Pressure Cooker Recipe) appeared first on Live Simply.

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A few months ago, our family was invaded by a dreaded pest: lice. If you’re a mom you probably just groaned. Because we all know just how irritating a case of head lice can be.

That was my exact reaction when I got the call from the kids’ school, informing me that Londyn had lice and nits. After my initial shock and groan, I raced to the school to pick her up. On the way, I called the pediatrician to ask about the best treatment options. The pediatrician recommended calling a lice service.

A lice service?

I can’t be the only person to not know about such a service. I was intrigued.

A quick google searched revealed several lice treatment services in the area. I called around and hired the one with the best rate, highest ratings, and a website that boasted “natural treatment methods.”

Long, long story short, the sweet owner came out to our house that evening, checked each of our heads, and determined that Londyn and I had lice. Not exactly what I envisioned for a Monday evening.

The treatment was so incredibly simple. Jen, our lice expert for the evening, sectioned off Londyn’s hair and smothered each section in coconut conditioner to suffocate the live bugs and easily remove the nits. She then combed strands of hair with a professional lice comb (you can find them on Amazon) to remove lice and nits (the latter is so important to avoid a revisit). She repeated the same treatment on my hair.

Once the lice and nits were fully removed, Jen provided us with information for treating the house (bedding, couch, etc.) and keeping the bugs away in the future.

Her recommendation for avoiding future occurrences was simple and completely natural: coconut oil and regular head checks. She also added that a tea tree essential oil spray will work to keep the pests away; however, some folks don’t like the smell of tea tree oil or may have a reaction to this oil.

Since our lice episode, I’ve been consistent with regular coconut oil hair masks and head checks.

Not only is a coconut oil hair mask a great way to keep lice away (lice hate the scent of coconut and the coconut oil will suffocate and kill live lice), but it’s also improved the condition of my hair. Coconut oil naturally adds moisture, hydrates, and may even strengthen hair thanks to the fatty acids. Plus, using a coconut oil hair mask reminds me to slow down and take care of myself–similar to using a face mask or enjoying a nightly facial routine. SLOW IT DOWN, MAMA! 

The most important thing for me is results. If a product doesn’t work for me, I’m not going to continue using it.

Coconut oil leaves my hair feeling hydrated, moisturized, silky smooth, vibrant, and healthy. At this point, I’ve determined that a twice-a-month coconut oil hair mask works best for my hair.

While coconut oil has worked well for my hair, I have read that some people experience dryness after using coconut oil. You guys, just like with makeup or skincare products, there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution. While a particular oil, serum, or makeup may be the perfect solution one person, it may be less-than-satisfactory for another. We are all unique. Personally, I don’t like coconut oil on my face (and my face breaks out when I use it), but I love using it in my hair. I know people who swear by using coconut oil on their face.

See, we’re all different and unique. Here’s what I recommend…

Try using a coconut oil hair mask if you’re looking for a natural and affordable hair mask option. Most likely you already have a jar of coconut oil sitting in your pantry. It doesn’t hurt to try it. If you love it, like I do, awesome. Find a routine that works for you. Maybe that’s using the hair mask once a month. Maybe that’s once a week. If you find coconut oil makes your hair dry, try mixing it with argan oil, or use argan oil by itself.

How to Make a Coconut Oil Hair Mask

All you need is one ingredient…virgin coconut oil. The same stuff you may already use for cooking and baking. In my case, I also put a dollop of coconut oil in my coffee each morning before blending it with an immersion blender (along with unsalted, grass-fed butter). If you end up going with argan oil (as discussed above), you’ll simply need argan oil. The argan oil will be used and applied just as the coconut oil.

The coconut oil should be soft, or liquid, so it’s easy to work through your hair. If your coconut oil is solid, warm it in the microwave or on the stove-top for just a few seconds. Another option is to rub the coconut oil in the palm of your hand before applying to your hair. Your body heat will automatically melt the coconut oil. The amount of coconut oil needed will depend on the length of your hair. I’ve found that a little bit goes a long way. I use a max of 2-3 tablespoons worth for my hair. Once you have your coconut oil, it’s time to apply it as a hair mask.

How to Apply and Use a Coconut Oil Hair Mask

Using your fingers, apply the coconut oil to dry hair, working the coconut oil through your hair. Avoid applying coconut oil on your scalp. I like to focus on my ends and then add a small amount towards the middle-top section of my hair. If you have a lot of hair, use a comb (not a hair brush) to work the coconut oil through your hair after application. Remember, a little bit of oil goes a long, long way.

If you have long hair, twist your hair into a bun, and secure the bun with a ponytail holder or anything that will be comfortable to sleep in. I’ve heard of people placing shower caps over their hair at this point, but that would annoy me. I’ve found it’s best to leave the coconut oil hair mask in my hair overnight, but this is completely up to you. I place a hand towel on my pillow to prevent the coconut oil from staining my pillow or leaving behind any grease marks. I like to use this mask twice a month, but you can definitely use it weekly.

Experiment to see what time frame works best for your hair.

After your set time, remove your hair from the bun and shower/shampoo. Since I have so much hair, I’ve found it’s best to shampoo in sections; separating my hair in half and shampooing each section. I’ve also found it’s best to scrub and massage my hair and scalp with the shampoo to ensure all the coconut oil is out. This is also why a little bit of coconut oil goes a long way.

Once the coconut oil has been removed, and your hair feels clean, you don’t need to do much else. I personally don’t condition my hair with conditioner after treatment, but, again, see what works best for your hair. After a coconut oil hair treatment, I usually blow dry and style my hair. This extra step allows me to go a few days without needing to shampoo again. Over the next week, I usually wash my hair 1-2 times, and apply dry shampoo as needed.

Have you tried using coconut oil as a hair mask? What did you think?

The post Coconut Oil Hair Mask: A Simple, Natural, Affordable Hair Mask appeared first on Live Simply.

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Wow! What an overwhelming response to the einkorn blueberry scone/gluten chat last week. I heard from so many of you, echoing similar feelings about gluten, the fear epidemic that we’re creating around food in America, and getting back to real (traditional) food.

I also heard from many of you with a request to please continue sharing gluten-free recipes. You guys, that’s no problem. I promise, the gluten-free recipes aren’t going away. Just as the gluten recipes didn’t disappear when I cut gluten from my diet (read more about that). (<–Thankfully, I worked ahead before my protocol began. I also have a lovely recipe development partner, Helen.)

I believe in balance and variety, and that includes–if you can–consuming a variety of grains and naturally gluten-free ingredients. I’ll also continue to label recipes as gluten-free (or dairy-free, or vegetarian, etc.) when appropriate, because I want to make finding recipes an easy and simple task here on Live Simply. Cool?

In the spirit of celebrating real ingredients and homemade food, I thought it would be fun to make another treat. This time with a different ancient grain: spelt. 

Spelt, unlike einkorn, is a fairly easy grain to find for the majority of people. If you have a health food store in your area, or any store that carries “health food,” you can probably find spelt. You can even order spelt on Amazon for a decent price.

The beauty of using ancient grains, whether that’s einkorn, spelt, heirloom wheat, etc. is that these grains are easier to digest, and also boast a lower gluten content and higher protein. This doesn’t mean that people with a gluten intolerance can consume these grains. It simply means these grains have maintained their original attributes. They haven’t been manipulated or tampered with.

Besides einkorn, spelt has become my favorite (gluten-containing) grain to use in baked goods. Spelt has a naturally nutty, sweet flavor that’s imparted to baked goods. Spelt can be tricky to work with since it can result in rather dry baked goods, but this is an easy fix with an accurate wet to dry ingredient ratio.

I also love to mix spelt with einkorn, or oat flour, when baking. Mixing flours often results in unique flavors and the most favorable textures. For today’s recipe, chocolate chip cookies, we’re going to work with just one grain: spelt.

The nutty, rustic sweetness of spelt comes through in these cookies–which I find delightful. And the texture is everything I want in a good ol’ homemade cookie.

These cookies aren’t doctored up with special ingredients–beans, veggies, or superfood powders. Nope, they’re cookies! Just good ol’ treats that are made with simple, real ingredients. Simple ingredients that show your family just how delicious homemade food can be. Move aside, cookie dough packages! 

Ancient Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies (Spelt Flour Cookies)

These cookies aren’t doctored up with special ingredients–beans, veggies, or superfood powders. Nope, they’re cookies! Just good ol’ treats that are made with simple, real ingredients. Simple ingredients that show your family just how delicious homemade food can be. Move aside, cookie dough packages! 

  • 2 cups whole grain spelt flour (273 g)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 8 TB unsalted butter (softened, but not warm)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar (packed (176 g))
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips (mini or standard chips*)
Special Equipment:
  • medium bowl
  • large bowl
  • hand mixer (or a stand-mixer fitted with paddle attachment)
  • parchment paper
  • sheet pan
  • cookie scoop (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer (or a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream together the softened butter and sugar. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

  4. Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients in two batches.

  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop the dough (I used a 4 teaspoon cookie scoop) and place on the sheet pan, placing the dough about an inch apart on the baking sheet to allow for spreading.

  7. Bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on size, until lightly browned on the edges and slightly firm in the center. 

  8. Let the cookies rest on the hot baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
  9. Keep the dough in the fridge between rounds.

*My favorite chocolate chip brands are Enjoy Life (the mini or morsel size chips are the best) and Equal Exchange. 

Dairy-Free: If you wanted to go dairy-free, you could try using softened coconut oil; however, I haven’t tested this suggestion. I’m not sure how they would turn out. 

Freezing: If you don’t want to cook all the dough, you can always stash away some of the dough in the freezer for an easy grab-n-bake option.

Gluten-Free: If you’re looking for a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe, this “miracle” almond flour recipe is my favorite. 

 

The post Ancient Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies (Spelt Flour Cookies) appeared first on Live Simply.

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A couple of weeks ago we talked about how to simplify real food with a capsule pantry. Here’s a quick recap…

A capsule pantry is much like a capsule wardrobe; a term that you are probably familiar with. The capsule concept was created by Susie Faux, a London Boutique owner in the ’70s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items that work together and don’t go out of style (timeless).

A capsule pantry is an intentional way to simplify. A capsule pantry is made up of essential foods (ingredients). Foods that you love and use. Foods that can be used to create multiple meals. While most of us think of a pantry as just dry goods, this concept applies across the board to the fridge, freezer, and actual pantry (dry goods).

A capsule pantry simplifies not only your pantry space (goodbye ingredients that sit for years, just taking up space and not serving a purpose), but also simplifies planning and preparing meals. When you have a pantry that’s stocked with ingredients and foods you love and use, creating simple, nourishing meals is easy. A capsule pantry, to me, is essential for creating a simplified, ready-at-any-moment real food lifestyle.

The ingredients and foods stocked in your capsule pantry should be carefully curated by you, based on your family’s lifestyle. As an example, I shared a list of what’s stocked in my capsule pantry. You can download this list, here.

Cannellini beans are one of the ingredients on my list, along with carrots, onions, and broth/stock. With these ingredients, I can make a variety of meals including a variety of soups.

We have soup at least once a week, whether this is served as a make-ahead lunch meal (usually prepared on a Sunday evening), or a quick dinner (on the stove-top or in the Instant Pot).

Today’s recipe, Tuscan White Soup Bean, is an easy meal to add to your favorite’s list. A meal that is built on capsule pantry ingredients, making it affordable and easy to whip up even on the busiest of nights. 

This rustic soup makes just enough to feed my family of four, so if you’re wanting leftovers (or your family tends to enjoy multiple bowls of soups at a meal), you may want to double the recipe in a large pot. I love to serve this soup alongside grilled cheese, or make sheet-pan sourdough croutons to serve on top of the soup.

Vegetarian Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan White Soup Bean is an easy meal to add to your favorite’s list. A meal that is built on capsule pantry ingredients, making it affordable and easy to whip up even on the busiest of nights. 

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2-3 carrots)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary (stem and leaves separated, and leaves roughly chopped)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth/stock)
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans (cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (to taste )
  • pinch black pepper (to taste )
  • 2 1/2 cups kale (de-stemmed and chopped*)
Optional Garnishes:
  • grated parmesan
  • fresh thyme
Special Equipment:
  • Dutch oven (or large pot)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot (3 quart or larger), over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the carrots and garlic and sauté 4 minutes, or until the carrots begin to soften and the garlic is fragrant.

  3. Add the fresh rosemary leaves and stem, fresh thyme, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the broth, beans, salt and pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrots and beans have softened.

  4. Stir in the chopped kale (or greens of choice) and simmer for 5 minutes until the kale is wilted. Remove the thyme and rosemary stems, then adjust to taste (adding more salt or pepper, if needed).

  5. Serve warm with your desired garnishes.

*Alternatively, you can use baby spinach in this soup. I think chard would also be lovely, although chard tends to be bitter so you may want to decrease the amount used. 

The post Vegetarian Tuscan White Bean Soup appeared first on Live Simply.

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If you follow me over on Instagram, you probably know that a couple of months ago I cut gluten from my diet.

The following thoughts are completely my opinion and something I’ve been thinking about a lot since going gluten-free, as well as returning from Iceland

Gluten is a feared ingredient in American culture. It feels like we, Americans, are constantly searching for an ingredient to blame for all our health woes, and lately that ingredient is gluten.

I cringe at the marketing used on many gluten-free products, proclaiming that a food product is somehow healthier or superior simply because a gluten-based grain isn’t used. This kind of marketing leads consumers to believe that all gluten must be evil and “unhealthy.” Many of these gluten-free products are made with less-than-desirable ingredients, too.

This reminds me of the margarine versus butter trend of my childhood. Don’t eat this food; instead, eat this highly processed food product.  Demonizing ingredients, and then creating alternative (processed) foods, is a big money maker. 

Now, I’m not saying that eliminating gluten isn’t necessary. Some folks have a severe intolerance to gluten. And some folks may need to remove gluten temporarily to heal the gut and balance the body (overly-processed food wreaks havoc in our gut and our bodies). These circumstances aren’t trendy; they’re real issues that need to be addressed.

My concern is more so for people who can consume gluten, but due to marketing and books and online influencers become fearful of all gluten. And on that note, doesn’t it feel like we live in a culture that’s constantly telling us to fear food because it’s from an animal or a recipe calls for dairy, or it’s not keto or paleo, etc? What happened to simply enjoying fresh, real food? 

In general, as a society, we consume a lot of gluten in highly-processed forms. Instead of demonizing gluten, I think it’s time that we take a look at how we eat gluten versus lumping all gluten together in the same bread basket (so to speak).

It’s time to return to traditional methods used to prepare gluten-containing grains: sourdough (a traditional process that breaks down gluten and makes it easier to digest), sprouted grains (another traditional method that makes gluten easier to digest), and consuming a variety of wholesome grains (einkorn, spelt, rye, kamut, etc.). It’s also time for us to get back in our kitchens, and learn the art of preparing meals, including grains, in order to avoid the highly-processed food products that claim to be bread or pastries.

 

It was fascinating to watch the food culture in Iceland during our recent visit to the country. I only saw a gluten-free reference once on a menu, and that was in a tourist restaurant.

The Icelandic diet is rooted in tradition and sustainability. Bread is served everywhere in Iceland, and it isn’t a highly-processed bread-like product. Oh no. I’m talking about fresh, homemade bread using a variety of grains. Many of the breads we encountered were also made with traditional methods, including sourdough. The ingredients in all the breads, from pastries to basic table bread, are simple and wholesome. The breads aren’t made with stabilizers, gums, or preservatives. The ingredients are lovingly tended to and kneaded in home kitchens, small bakeries, and local cafes and restaurants.

Bread is certainly a staple in Iceland, but it’s only part of a richer food culture that’s rooted in traditional eating. The Icelandic diet also consists of pickled and fermented foods, local lamb and fish (such as: trout and salmon), vegetables from local greenhouses (remember, it’s freezing cold most of the year), fruits, eggs, dried seaweed and moss, and a variety of dairy products that are produced locally throughout the country (skyr is the famous Icelandic yogurt).

Americans (myself included) can learn so much from countries (like Iceland) that are rooted in rich, traditional, mostly-local food cultures. Where, for the most part, (real) traditional foods guide families; not commercial marketing or trends.

So, back to my thoughts on cutting out gluten…

Why did I go gluten-free over the past couple of months?

Well, I went to a functional medicine doctor to have lab work done for a routine physical. One of the tests I took was a GI test. The results were incredibly detailed. Seriously impressive! My test revealed that a couple of parasites were living with me. I know, TMI, but apparently this is a very common issue. The test also revealed how my gut is handling gluten, eggs, dairy, and soy. The results were negative (a good thing) for each one, except gluten and soy. This means that some healing needed to be done. These reactions were signs that my body needed some extra TLC. That something was off balance, and, as a result, my body wasn’t processing certain foods well. 

Based on the results, my doctor put me on a gut-healing protocol for three months which included a bunch of gut-healing supplements, a gluten-free diet, and learning to manage stress (my cortisol levels were also high). 

I appreciated the fact that my doctor didn’t demonize gluten. Instead, she told me that consuming traditionally prepared grains, along with ancient grains, is the best way to enjoy gluten–if your gut is happy and functioning well. This is how past generations enjoyed gluten and digested it with ease. Once the protocol is complete, I plan to add ancient grains and traditionally prepared grains back into my diet. <–Which I actually did in Iceland because it would have been nearly impossible to live in the country without consuming gluten grains. 

These experiences (my test results, healing protocol, and our recent trip to Iceland) have only deepened my passion for sharing the importance of getting back to a variety of ancient grains, as well as traditionally-prepared grains, such as: sourdough and sprouting. And, of course, the importance of enjoying a variety of real, traditional food (cultured, fermented, and fresh ingredients). Balance and variety is so important.  

Today’s recipe, Einkorn Blueberry Scones, is made with an ancient grain, einkorn. Einkorn is known as the oldest variety of wheat making it an “ancient” grain. The ancient grain is believed to have originated in the Tigris-Euphrates region and is possibly the main grain referenced in the earliest accounts of the Bible. Einkorn is said to be the wheat men were eating in the earliest days before modern day wheat varieties. While modern wheat has undergone hybridization, einkorn still holds true to its original properties. Einkorn is slowly gaining popularity, but is still grown in only a few regions in Europe. 

The sweet, ancient grain has a lighter texture and taste than modern day wheat, and contains a more favorable gluten ratio. 

The scones make for a fun treat on the weekend, or for a special occasion. The scones aren’t overly-sweet, so the lemon glaze adds an extra touch of sweetness to balance everything out.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought, “Are we allergic to food, or are we increasingly allergic to what has been done to it?” -Robyn O’Brien 

Einkorn Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Homemade blueberry scones made with einkorn flour and naturally sweetened with maple syrup. The main sweetness and flavor comes from the lemon glaze, so don’t skip it.  

Blueberry Scones:
  • 3 cups all-purpose Einkorn flour ((340g))
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (cold and cubed)
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream (cold)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 TB pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup frozen wild blueberries*
Lemon Glaze:
  • ¾ cup organic powdered sugar ((102g))
  • 2 TB pure maple syrup
  • 1 TB heavy cream (or until desired consistency is reached)
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch salt
Special Equipment:
  • large bowl
  • small bowl
  • sheet pan
  • parchment paper (optional)
Scones:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

  2. Whisk all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives, until it resembles coarse crumbs.

  4. Whisk the wet ingredients in a small bowl, then add to the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a wood spoon, and then finish kneading with your hands to bring the dough together. All ingredients should be combined, but do not over-work the dough.

  6. Working quickly, knead the frozen berries into the dough. Some of the berries may not incorporate.

  7. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form into a circle that is 1” thick.

  8. Cut the circle into 8 equal triangles.

  9. Place the scones on a parchment lined baking sheet–a metal spatula helps lift the scones from the floured surface. Press any remaining blueberries into the tops of the scones.

  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.

  11. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze:
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.

  2. Spread or drizzle the glaze over the baked scones once the desired consistency is reached.

*Wild blueberries are smaller than “normal” blueberries. Most stores sell a wild blueberry option in the frozen fruit section. You could definitely try fresh or “regular” frozen berries, however, I can’t speak to this with experience. 

The key to making good scones is to work with the dough as little as possible. Don’t over-knead or over-mix.

Keep in mind it is very difficult to knead all the berries into the dough. It helps to press a well into the dough, in the bowl, and pour the berries in, then fold it over a few times. Just be gentle. There will be some berry “bleeding” in the dough. This is fine and normal, and delicious. Pressing the uncooperative berries into the top of the formed circle also works.

The post Einkorn Blueberry Scones (Naturally-Sweetened) with Lemon Glaze appeared first on Live Simply.

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