Thai Curry Paste time!

The colour of your paste will really depend on how much dried red chillies or fresh coriander you use. For red paste don’t use any coriander leaves. Well on with it. I have to say this is the easiest and most fun I have had in a while. After all who doesn’t like thai curry?  There  is nothing like the wait of an order at a restaurant or order in to get the gastric juices flowing. The anticipation and excitement of the first bite of that awesome red/green curry to take your body to a food comatorium. Yah, just made up that word so don’t look it up! Thai curry does that to the mind. There you lose your mind and you begin to hear voices. Gentle whispers,  “you could soo make this”!

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You head to the store the following day, searching frantically for the best curry paste: mild. red. vegan, gluten free, and everything zoe friendly. You find one in the array of glass bottled pastes and spices from across the sea. You are ready!

Ingredients in, rice cooked, you are on a roll. Dinner served, and to your bewildered surprised, it taste like absolutely nothing you just had in the restaurant!!!!!!! After much research. you conclude making your own paste  is the only way to wake up form this.

Finding your way to your local International District, you start your journey to being the greatest cook there every was, in your house. So what do you need?

  1. Galangal – don’t even think of skipping on this cause without this well….
  2.  Lemon grass – seriously do not make me repeat myself!
  3. Dried red chillies – you know your limit. I however, always like to push the boundaries. Avoid if you have ulcers, because you and I both know it will kill you. Finally, remember chili burns twice
  4. Garlic – use 2-3 cloves. Don’t over  do it, you might live to regret it.
  5. Shallots – no, not green onions, or spring onions.The other one, mini purple onion, the size of a giant garlic.
  6. Finally, coriander roots – good luck finding this lot at your local. You may have to make your way to your nearest ID. Whiles there be sure to grab another curry for the sake of research.

 

Alright, alright, on with it.

Putting it all together.

Seriously this is really easy. Soak about 5-7 dried chillies and galangal bits in filtered water. Leave for about an hour. Once done, put everything in a mortar and smash away. Be sure to wear googles, chili water travels! Use pestle until you get a paste. However, should you find yourself once again with voices in your head, as the words of singer eSNa rings true, you might find yourself saying “ani’t not body got time for this”. If this is you, pack it all up, dump it in the nearest blender, and it does not have to be your own, and turn that baby on! You are done!

Ok, go out there and start master cooking. Have a great weekend!

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Making Homemade Rice Crackers

Reaching over in that middle aisle, you grab a pack of the rice crackers you love soo much, and probably the only ones you can eat thanks to the long list of allergy foods that you can no longer  eat. The price shows $ 2.99 which at first seems steep, as you glance over at the organic NON-GMO version sitting at about $4.00, you  begin reading the ingredients to compare. It reads: Rice, Salt. Is it really worth paying 3 – 4 dollars for a packet of crackers which will only last a few hours? What happens when you have 2 packs in the week, or goodness should you have a party for all your gluten free, vegan friends, how on earth do you buy enough for them. Let not forget the kids that eat you out of house and home, and pretty much live on rice crackers. As the calculations of cost begin to pile in your brain, you can’t help but wonder; could I make this at home? At $2.00/ LB  Organic rice comes fairly reasonably and cheaper than a packet of non organic rice crackers. In truth you can make them at home, all you need is patience, drive and rice! So lets get started

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Ingredients :

1 cup of organic rice ( jasmine or short grain brown)

pinch of salt

2 table spoons olive oil

 

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Prep:

Rinse rice till water runs almost clear. Add 3 cups of filtered water to white jasmine rice or 4 cups to short grain brown.

Put on stove to boil.

Cook until soft but still damp. If you need to add more water for longer cooking add 1/2 – 1 cup .

Turn oven on to 220 degrees F

Once soft but not dried, empty into food processor, or heavy duty blender, or a bowl to use hand blender

Blend till smooth.

Mix pureed rice and oil in bowl with salt to taste. It should be very gooey.

Pour mixture on to a metal baking sheet and spread no higher than 1cm.

Place on top shelf  in oven for 30mins or until surface of mixture becomes rubbery.

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Remove tray and place cooking weights or 3-4 butter knives on top of surface

Increase temp to 300 degrees F

Place tray back in oven and bake for 30 – 40mins till the rice starts to harden.

Turn off oven and leave try in oven to cool.

Once cool break rice spread/cracker into bite size pieces

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Severe with hummus or guacamole for a lovely snack!

 

 

How to make soy milk

I really enjoyed making this, and even though I can’t have soy at the moment, I really felt a sense of accomplishment once I finished making soy milk all by myself. I have spent the last 12months really trying to make as much as I can at home, to ensure it is whole, not preserved, fresh and clean. For me, this meant learning to make many of the organic foods that I usually pulled off the shelf, such as nut milks, nut butters, breads, breakfast cereals etc. Along the way I have learnt soo much. At first I really found it scary and to be honest felt that some foods were meant to be made in facilities, but as the months have gone on, I have began to step outside my comfort zone. This week, I challenged myself to something that I have long felt was beyond my reach, as I had placed soy in a category all by itself. Once I began to see it as any other legume, I felt more comfortable to explore what can be done with it. With that, I took on soy milk, one of the last remaining foods, I still buy off the shelf. Now I have comfort in knowing that I don’t really need to do that anymore, and now I have infinite boundaries I feel comfortable jumping over! So with that, lets make soy milk.

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You are going to need:

1 cup of organic GMO-free soy beans. Use the bulk bin if you can, it will be cheaper

12 cups of filtered water

a massive pot that can hold at least 15 cups of liquid

unbleached cheese muslin cloth or sieve

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Preparation:

1. place soybeans in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of filtered water. Leave for  18hrs. After 18hrs throw water away after 18hrs, wash beans till all beans skin are gone.

2. place beans in a blender and add 1 cup of filtered water. Blend till smooth

3. Place soy content in pot and add remainder 9 cups of water.

4. Boil on high for 10mins, stir with spoon occasionally to prevent soy fiber from sticking to bottom of put. Skim of any foam layer that forms on top of milk, do not stir it back into the milk.

5. After 10 mins lower stove to medium to low heat and leave to cook for 45 – 1 1/2hrs depending on how creamy you want it.

6. Once cooking time is reached, place cheese cloth over a bowl (see jar & cheese prep)

7. carefully strain milk. Squeeze excess milk out of cloth and save soy pulp( akara) in fridge

8. sweeten milk as you please with vanilla extract or blend with dates. You can also leave it unsweetened.

9. pour milk in warm jars (see jar prep below). Seal, label and store!

10. Enjoy your homemade, healthy, fresh soy milk as you like

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Jar prep & cheese cloth prep:

1. Place jars & lids in pot and cover with water. Boil for 5-10 mins .

2. Carefully remove jars and place on clean dish towel rims up.

3. place cheese cloth in pot of hot water with stove OFF. Leave till ready to use

The Healthy Nut Bar

Ah, coconut bliss. It’s morning tea time and all you really want is a little pick me up and a smoothie that will leave you feeling refreshed and healthy all at the same time. You reach for the little health snack you bought at the health food shop.  You know it’s health because it’s organic, gluten free, and high in protein. It’s not too big, not as filling, but it will do, cause you know it’s healthy. You couldn’t have this every day though, because the price tag per square will see you paying upwards of $3-$4, which will pretty much send you into poordum by weeks end. So what do you do? Well, make it yourself really. Stop denying the hippy in you, it’s need to make everything at home and just get on with it. Yes, it may be a disaster the first 5 times but you can be comforted in knowing the it cost less than buying 7 of those bars. So you give it one last go, because well, you are deep in now and there is no turning back, and you nail it!

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As you take your first bite, you taste every single flavor, and your taste buds are not confused, but excited about the next mouthful. Chewy with a hit of crunchiness it fills you bite after bite after bite.  You chase it with a warm cup of tea, at which point you are content. You could have another, and not feel guilty for it.

 

Be sure to use your bulk bins as much as possible as this will save you a lot more money than buy individual pre packed. With bulk bins you buy only what you need with smaller chance of wastage.

What you will need:

1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

1/2 cup of walnuts

1 cup Brazilian nuts

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup desiccated coconut

10 dried figs

2 table spoons olive oil

2 table spoon maple syrup

1 table spoons blackstap molasses

 

Preparation:

1. set your oven to 400 F

2. place nuts in a food processor, blender or hand blender cup and blend  into a meal. Don’t make it prefect, some chopped chunks are good!

3. Empty into a bowl, add desiccated coconut, and mix well

4. cut figs into thin or thick slices, mix well

5. add wet ingredients and mix well

6. spread into a square baking pan, to desired thickness. Do not use baking sheet. the heat from the pans metal on the bottom will help toast from underneath.

7. Place in oven for 7 mins – 10min do not turn on candy crush or your food will burn. Stay close by

8. Remove pan from oven. Let Stand for 1 -2 mins.  Using a sharp knife, cut columns and rows tables into your bake. Do not remove. Leave to completely cool.

9. No go over your lines again and separate individual squares. Store in container in fridge for extra firmness and enjoy daily

 

 

 

Pumpkin & Pistachio Risotto

Well, that’s different, but a gal’s got to eat. It looked totally amazing on the plate. Creamy and garnished, it looks ready to eat.  Fluffing a portion of round white rice with spots of purple green, you wonder if this idea, which perhaps was fulfilled in hast might have been a not so good idea. After all who cooks pistachios with rice. Ice cream, yes! Salted, yes. You had to take it a little further. As you stem through your other dinner options, the folk hits your mouth, and there it is. the subtleness of the truffle oil hits you first, musky and strong, but not over powering. As you continue to chew, the creaminess of the pistachio wakes your pallet. Yum. The sweetness of the butternut resets your tastebuds to begin the experience all over again!

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With a change in my diet, as a non lactose vegetarian, with food intolerances I had to find ways to increase my protein, calcium and other nutrients while still enjoying food, because well I love food. This risotto gave me the whole food experience without the addition of the processed substitutions.  It really was bliss.

 

Butternut is rich in beta carotene which converts to vitamin A to help you keep your immune system healthy and strong. With cold season on its way, getting as much high carotene foods in will help you fight illnesses better and recover alot faster.

The pistachios. Well, who knew these tiny purple and green nuts had this  much power! Another food not given enough credit. IT is from the cashew family, but it is able to provide so much more. Packed with protein, lutein, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc,  Studies have also shown that they help to lower LDL so if you have a cholesterol risk, start eating. You will be putting these where ever you can!

Finally Thyme,  wonderful for the upper respiratory system, especially with coughs and infected tonsil. So when paired with the richness of butternut and superfood of pistachio. You should be feeling a mountain of health in no time.

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

half butternut pumpkin

3/4  risotto rice

1/2 red onion

1 cup shelled pistachio unsalted

2 cups vegetarian stock

3 cups filtered water

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon black truffle oil

stick of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

watercress for garnish or more for nutritional benefits

 

 

Prep:

peel and chop butternut pumpkin in to nice small squares or just small abstract pieces. The smaller pieces allow for quicker cooking time.  Next chop onions and place in frying pan with pumpkin. Remember frying pan not pot. Add olive and turn stove to low heat. Cook pumpkin and onions for 7mins to 10mins.

Next rinse rice till water is clear. Drain and add to pumpkin and onions. Add thyme. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes, to prevent stick and burning. Add stock and 1 cup of water. leave to simmer. Stir occasionally, remember you are cooking in a frying pan so water will evaporate faster. Add 2 cups of water to pan once water evaporates and leave to simmer. Stir ever 5 minutes until rice is soft.

Put pistachio in food processor with last 1 cup of water and blend smoother with small chunks. Stir through rich and leave to cook for 2 minutes. Stir through 1/2 teaspoon of black truffle oil. Add salt to taste. Garnish and enjoy!

 

My food intolerances & allergies – the 4 week elimination diet

So though I have been on a health quest all my life due to wheat and intolerances, it never accrued to me that I might still be eating the wrong things. I decided it was time to have a visit with my naturopath as I still had some allergy symptoms but was still eating healthy. We sent my blood work to the lab to check for IgA, B, antigens to foods and the results were shocking! So for the next 4 weeks I will be on a elimination diet until my next visit with my doctor. I am optimistic that this will only make me better and even more healthier so I welcome the challenge. To follow my progress make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel. I will upload daily progress vblogs  http://www.youtube.com/user/Naturallyzoefriendly

Here are a list of foods I can not eat for the next 4 weeks:

dairy ,
coffee,
blueberries ,
cranberries,
honey,
sugar,
baker’s yeast,
brewer’s yeast,
fish ,
almonds,
amaranth,
kidney beans,
lima beans,
soy,
string beans,
buckwheat,
corn,
wheat,
gluten,
hazelnut,
lentil,
oat,
green peas,
pecan,
rye,
sesame seeds,
spelt,

Blueberries & Buckwheat squares oh yay – Our visit to Blue Dot Farm

Our visit to blue dot farm wonderful. The hour drive out of the city was wonderful and pleasant, nothing short of amazing. Watching the wonderful green lush of evergreens line the edge of the roads, I began to appreciate all that nature offers.

As we approached the farm just off the main road, I began to feel my excitement build. My heart began to palpate and I felt as though I could not breathe. I could feel every beat as my heart pumped with glee.  We were about to harvest our own food.

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A two story home sat at the edge of the field, silent and still. It was early and there was little movement. Surrounded by trees and bush, it was a sight of tranquility. As we walked towards the building, I felt my mind confirm. “this is right, this is what we are suppose to do”. Build a relationship with our farmers. Like us they are people and not just a farm, but people that put their passion into providing us with nourishing food. To repay them and say thank you it made sense to physically say thank you and help harvest and show our appreciation for all the work they had done.

The bushes were new, young and organic. None more than two years old. They were beautiful. Filled with clusters of fresh, deep blue berries that were firm to touch and sweet to taste. Time past and buckets filled. We roamed the lanes in search of more berries and more peace. It was therapy. I began to sense a deep calm as I stood among the trees, observing the enjoyment among all those involved. The children laughed and ran with joy, picking and packing. They understood, a deep appreciation was being set in them.

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The summer has been brilliant. I can not find any fault with the wonderful warmth we were lucky to have this year.  Appreciating every ounce of D providing rays even on the hottest of days. As the summer comes to a close, I eye the many punnetts  of blueberries upon the shelf, knowing that not long from now, they will be a distant memory until the summer returns once again. I remember our farm host that allow us to be a part of their process. I remember the faces behind the boxes of clear plastics sealed with rubber bands. I remember were they began and how far they traveled.

We love making these delicious squares. I love that it is dairy free, margarine free, and low in sugar. They are easy to make anyone can do it. They make great snacks for school lunch boxes and morning and afternoon teas. Once made they can be frozen and eaten over a few weeks. They are awesome.

Buckwheat &  Blueberry Squares

What you will need:

1 cup of fresh organic blueberries

1 !/2 cup organic buckwheat flour

2 eggs

6 tablespoons of olive oil

1 level teaspoon aluminium – free baking powder

4 tablespoons of maple syrup

1/2 cup almond/soy/rice milk ( your choice)

2 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses

Preperation:

Mix  olive oil, maple, molasses, eggs, and baking powder together until mixture looks creamed. Next add buckwheat flour and non dairy milk and mix well. Finally add blueberries and mix through.

Set oven to 400 F. Oil pan and place mix in pan. Place in oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until ready. Let stand to cool. Serve.

This weeks lunch idea – Spicy shitake noodle soup

Cold days, rainy ways. What better way to fill your belly aches. Simple and fast you won’t believe your eyes, but it really is that quick to make. Onions and mushrooms in a pot, a spoon of olive oil, if that’s all you’ve got.  A taste of chilli to warm your belly. Miso and water this soup will not be airy! Throw in your choy and soy and boy what have you got? A simple soup that fills with delight! noodles

You will need:

1/2  red onion

1  cup shitake mushrooms

2  heads of choy

1 table spoon olive oil

1 teaspoon of brown rice miso paste

1 teaspoon of chili oil or 1/2 teaspoon fresh chilies

3 cups of water

2 table spoon of soy sauce

120g tofu (optional)

Preparation:

Place oil in a pot with onion and  choped fresh shitake mushrooms. Stir on low heat until mushrooms start to soften.  Next add chili oil and miso paste.  Stir for 2 minutes. Once done add choy, and tofu.  Stir for an additional 2-5 mins. Add water and soy sauce, let soup boil for an additional five minutes and voila! Serve on noodles of your pick and garnish with spring onions (shallots) .

Enjoy

 

Organic solution

It arrived. The rubber tubs grey and low, easy to hold. Two of them, filled with fresh, vegetables the shine as bright as the rainbow.  Smiling I remember how much I look forward to my weekly deliveries knowing that I no longer have the worry of wondering. Wondering if my organic is safe to eat. Wondering where it came from and what it contains.

It wasn’t long ago that I had the worlds biggest rant after finding out that the USDA had approved a list of pesticides deemed safe for organic farming. Yes, that pretty much did it for me. I spoke to a few of  local grocers and Trader Joes, who could not guarantee all their foods were grown without the use of any  pesticide nor could they guarantee my food GMO free. “But ” you say ” Organic is  GMO free ” . That’s right, but there is a catch. While the seeds planted is non GMO, Some major organic growers cannot vouch for the complete absence of GMO contamination due to some wind draft etc.  It was time to wake up and find local growers that were still true to the organic growing practices  craved so much.

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The Coop

I have used food coops for the past 7yrs, as a means of getting discounts on my organic bulk foods mainly, and due to their sustainable practices. I would say over the last 2 years, I have not been as committed to them as my main source of food as I got lazy and time got the better of me. While I still purchased organic foods, I found going to my nearest grocer more sustainable and convenient .

Food Cooperatives are what you would refer to as consumers cooperatives. What that means is that it is owned by the consumers and managed in a democratic manner, by meeting and fulfilling the needs of all it’s members.  As a member of a food cooperative, you are a shareholder in the organisation and the best part, your opinions and concerns count. All food coops follow Rochdales’ Principals: Voluntary and open memberships, anti discrimination, motivation and rewards, autonomy and independence, democratic member control, concern for the community, provide information eduction and training, and finally cooperation of cooperatives with themselves.

With these values, it makes things a little easier knowing that when you pick something off the shelf or purchase fresh foods  that each item has been scrutinized and chosen with all your concerns in mind.  (see link to all food cooperatives inside and outside the USA  at end of this article)

The organic box deliveries

Local deliveries of organic produce to your door direct from local organic farmers. Now they are fantastic, they usually only supply fresh local grown but will also seek foods from other states when needed. Unlike the cooperatives, non perishable goods are rarely available, but this too can vary from country to country, so it is best to check with them. Making a decision on who to choose can be very tricky. Not all organic box suppliers follow the same policies as food coops, but many come close.  The idea is that they develop a first hand relationship with local farmers and provide on seasonal foods as they are available, whiles keeping the prices low. Some have boxes to choose from, whiles others allow individual purchases. Substitutions are allowed making life a little easier if you are not the eggplant type and would prefer more carrots in your box. Either way, it is a cheaper, easier and trustworthy alternative to the shopping cart or pick your own.

When choosing which company to go with, a good start is a phone call. Asking questions with your concerns. You can also have a look at their sites which often list their farmers whom you can call directly and speak with. This creates a direct relationship between you and your local farmers. A wonderful way to build trust.

With no contracts, you can book yourself your first box which can be delivered directly to your door or at a drop spot near you.

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Eating partially organic  

So being realistic, not everyone can do the coop or a box delivery after all or at least for now. Getting to your weekly farmers market or using a CSA  is also an alternative. You still get to know your farmers, you know what you are getting, you buy from who you feel most comfortable with and those closest to your way of thinking.

Aiming GMO free – look for the orange butterly.

I’ll make this quick. Trying to stay GMO free is harder than one might think, even with labeling. At current the main GMO plant products are wheat, sougham, corn, soybean, cottonseed and canola.  The only way to stay 100% free of GMO foods is to never eat out in your life again. A little dramatic I know.

If you are lucky enough to live outside of the United States where most foods containing GMO ingredients are labelled, than you need not worry about this, however, for those of us that call the US our home, there are options. Get to know the NON GMO project. Look for the orange butterfly. Yes, this non profit is your go to for all brands verified GMO free or in the process of verification. This way you can guarantee that you are getting clean food. Most brands do not use their labels on the shelf at your local supermarket so utilizing this site is a good way to reach for your brand that is safe of GMO products guarantee.  (see link to NON GMO project at end of this article)

As I unpack my boxes of lush greens and vibrant fruit, I feel a sense of ownership in my informed decision to keep free and clean.  Knowing that in the next 5 years things may change yet again and I will be forced to re evaluate and make new decisions on what we eat, but until than shareholding is for me.

 

Links

Food Co op Directory (world wide) – http://www.coopdirectory.org/directory.htm

NON GMO project – http://www.nongmoproject.org/

National Cooperative Grocer Association -https://www.ncga.coop/