What’s on Your Plate Tonight?

Tonight (provided the weather holds out) we are grilling up a few grass-fed Delmonico and Porterhouse steaks. We are serving it with some left-over mashed potatoes that my lovely husband made last night, and a fresh salad. I got many of the ingredients for the salad including the lettuce in my CSA share this week, and I can’t wait to use it up! I just made up this yummy dressing to top the salad with:

1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
3/4 cups cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
few squirts lemon juice
2ish tsp. Dijon mustard
dried herbs to taste:
basil, thyme, rosemary
pinch of sea salt, dried onion, and freshly ground pepper
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp. raw honey

Put in a jar or salad dressing carafe and shake well. Best if made at least an hour in advance so the flavors can mix together.

Thank you Plus Other Good Stuff for the inspiration for the dressing!

Oh and I forgot to add that we will be drinking Kefir soda to go with it! I have three different flavors all ready to go. We have ginger-ale, cream soda, and grape! YUM!


Chicken Nuggets

Many of you might remember my article that I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the dangers of eating conventional chicken nuggets. I specifically broke down all of the ingredients in McDonald’s nuggets, but sadly they are not alone. The junk that I mentioned that was in them is not just in nuggets, but can be found in many pre-packaged food-like substances.

So in order to avoid all of the junk while still allowing my children to eat the foods that they like, I came up with a healthy version of chicken nuggets. And guess what? It’s easy too! Who knew? What I suggest doing is to make a large batch of this and freeze them so you can have a healthy meal on hand when you feel yourself giving into the drive-though temptation that we have all felt. Serve them with some raw carrots or celery sticks for some added crunch.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 lbs. of pastured local chicken cut into bite-sized pieces (note- if you are using a bone-in chicken as I did, I suggest using the breast portion to save yourself the hassle of cutting the meat off of an un-cooked chicken on the bone)
  • 1 cup buttermilk or kefir
  • Enough flour to coat evenly (sprouted flour is always the preferred choice in this but use what you have on hand)
  • About 1 quart grass-fed beef tallow OR expeller pressed coconut oil or palm oil (expeller pressed coconut oil has no coconut flavor or taste but is still a healthy fat to consume-you must use expeller pressed as it has a higher smoke point than virgin)
  • A heavy bottomed stainless steel pan or deep fryer
  • About a tsp. each of the following seasonings (I didn’t measure so this is approximate)
  1. sea salt
  2. pepper
  3. dried mustard seed
  4. fenegreek
  5. adobo seasonings (the natural version)
  6. onion powder
  7. garlic powder
  8. paprika
  9. cayenne pepper (optional)

The How To:

First you want to slowly warm up the fat of your choice (I used tallow with great results) to prevent any smoking. While the fat is warming up, go ahead and add everything but the flour to the cut up chicken and allow it to sit for a few minutes. When you are ready to begin frying, (make sure the oil is gently bubbling) go ahead and cover the seasoned chicken that’s now covered in buttermilk or kefir in the flour. Once it’s covered completely, add it to the oil and begin frying the chicken in small batches. Make sure that you turn the chicken a couple of times to make sure it cooks evenly.  You want the chicken to look light brown all over-it will take about 5-7 mins. Use tongs to remove it from the hot oil and allow the fat to heat back up before starting another batch. Just keep going this way until you have fried all of your chicken! You now have super healthy chicken nuggets that you can serve right away or do like I did and serve about half and freeze the rest!

ENJOY!!! I really hope you like this recipe, I was so happy when my kids devoured them and asked for seconds. Oh and I also served it with a bit of raw honey to dip it in. Even I loved it!

This recipe is shared at The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop #48, day2day joys: Read the ingredients, and Real Food Wednesdays 5/18, and Simple Lives Thursday #44, and Fight Back Fridays 5/20, and Made it on Monday #10

Make-Over in Progress!

So, anyone remember the make-over to Pure Homemaking that I promised a month or so ago? Well, it’s finally happening! I am so excited to see what it will bring. First and foremost is organization for all my recipes. It will also allow me to have more room for advertisements (not to many though), so I can hopefully make this labor of maybe a little bit profitable. I’m thrilled. If anyone has any great ideas on ways that I can improve Pure Homemaking, please share! I love hearing from you all.

Liberating French Fries

I had a hankering for french fries this past weekend. Like I HAD to have them. And I’m not even a big french fry person-I am SO picky about french fries. They must be thin, crispy and light feeling. Not burnt and not chewy-gross! I also try to avoid any kind that you can get through a drive-through, and I have never seen any advertised in a restaurant that says they were cooked in a HEALTHY oil.  The affordable frozen pre-made variety are always only so-so and usually have nasty things in them like trans-fat, msg, etc. So, I generally just don’t eat them.

But we were grilling up some fantastic grass-fed cheeseburgers this weekend and I told my husband that I MUST have french fries. I think I was tempted originally by a recipe over at The Cheese Slave and decided that I had to give it a try. We have made french fries that were fried in olive oil before and baked in the oven but they never compared to that boardwalk fries taste I was going for.  So I decided to give french fries fried in grass-fed tallow a go.

Here is a bit of information about why animal fats are in fact good for you (in moderation) as opposed to vegetable oils in “The Truth about Saturated Fatsby Mary Enig, PhD, and Sally Fallon:

Before 1920 coronary heart disease was rare in America; so rare that when a young internist named Paul Dudley White introduced the German electrocardiograph to his colleagues at Harvard University, they advised him to concentrate on a more profitable branch of medicine. The new machine revealed the presence of arterial blockages, thus permitting early diagnosis of coronary heart disease. But in those days clogged arteries were a medical rarity, and White had to search for patients who could benefit from his new technology. During the next forty years, however, the incidence of coronary heart disease rose dramatically, so much so that by the mid fifties heart disease was the leading cause of death among Americans. Today heart disease causes at least 40% of all US deaths. If, as we have been told, heart disease results from the consumption of saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fat in the American diet. Actually, the reverse is true. During the sixty-year period from 1910 to 1970, the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. During the past eighty years, dietary cholesterol intake has increased only 1%. During the same period the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increased about 400% while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60%. Check out the rest of the article, it’s very information packed.

So here is the actual recipe for 5 very generous servings:

  • 5 clean ORGANIC russet potatoes-scrub them clean and cut into small french fry shapes. The thinner the better in my opinion, but it’s up to you
  • About a quart of grass-fed beef tallow (rendered beef fat-check your local beef farms, you can easily render your own tallow from the fat, I’ve just never done it before) OR expeller pressed coconut oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Filtered water for soaking
  • Lined cookie sheet

The How to:

According to The Cheese Slave who got it from another book, it’s recommended to soak the cut potatoes in water for at least a half an hour before frying and to double fry. It is supposed to make for a crisper fry. That’s what I did and the results where perfect. So start off by soaking your freshly cut potatoes in filtered water for at least a half an hour, they will expand some. While they are soaking heat your tallow up in either a deep fryer or a heavy bottomed stainless steel skillet like I used. You want to make sure that you heat up the tallow very slowly or it will smoke. You don’t want it to smoke so go very slowly. Now go ahead and line a cookie tray with parchment paper because you will be frying the potatoes in small batches and you need to keep them warm until you do the second frying.

One the tallow has slowly warmed up to about 350 degrees or even up to 450 and your potatoes have soaked you can begin the frying process.  Make sure that the potatoes are dried completely before frying them. Now you can add a small batch of the potatoes to the tallow and allow it to fry for about 5 mins, moving the potatoes around every now and then. Once the time is up, remove them from the fat and put them on the cookie sheet, and place it in the oven to keep warm. Now simply repeat this process until all the potatoes are fried the first time, making sure to allow the tallow to heat back up between batches. You want to make sure that the fat is hot enough so that it boils pretty well while the potatoes are frying-otherwise you just end up with soggy fries-yuck.

Once you have gone through the first round of frying, just repeat again in small batches until you have double fried them all. The second time may take less time-you want the fries to look sort of brown. Once you are done just season them with as much sea salt as you like and serve right away! You will be in french fry heaven-I promise!

This recipe is Shared at Pennywise Platters Thursdays 5/12Fight Back Fridays 5/13 , Primal Friday #2, Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival 5/16, and Monday Mania 5/16

Ever wonder what was really in McDonald’s “Chicken” Nuggets?

It’s sure not food. Here’s what’s in it, straight from the horse’s mouth:

White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphate, natural flavor (botanical source). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

Hmmm…so McDonnald’s is claiming (which they do on the nutritional information) that their nuggets contain zero trans fats. But, it says right there in the laundry lists of ingredients that it contains hydrogenated soybean oil? Hold up, isn’t that trans fats? What actually is a trans fat? Good question. We hear about them all the time, but what is it exactly? Well, here’s what the American Heart Association has to say:

Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.  Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils.”  Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages.

So that still begs the question, why are they (and not just McDonalds but industry wise-all food manufacturing companies) are allowed to claim that a products contains ZERO trans fats if they clearly do? The rule is that IF a product has less than .5 grams PER serving than food manufactures are legally allowed to say they don’t contain any. Guess how large one serving of nuggest are- Just 2.3 oz. Now I’m not sure about you but that doesn’t seem like a meals worth to me. Oh for the record, trans fats are what lowers our good cholesterol and raises our bad. It also contributes to type 2 diabetes, which goes hand in hand with heart disease. Other types of fats and oils to avoid are vegetable oil and the once touted as healthy oil canola oil, which comes rancid straight from the shelf.

But don’t let trans fats give fat in general a bad name. Good fats are coconut oil, grass-fed butter and ghee, cold pressed olive oil, and animal fats from grass-fed meat (tallow is superb for frying and lard is great for pie crusts and the like). Our bodies NEED them and if we don’t get enough healthy fats than our bodies are not able to metabolize the foods that we eat. This causes a lot of the starches and other foods to just get converted into fat to hang around. The reason for this is because our bodies know that we need a fair amount of fat so it will hold it hostage so to speak.

Getting the proper amount of healthy fats also helps to cut down on sugar cravings, which is yet another thing that leads to diabetes; especially white refined sugar and corn sugar (HFCS). Another benefit to having plenty of fats is that you get fuller faster and don’t need to eat as much to be satisfied. So you’re not overeating which is yet another thing that leads to weight gain.

Back to the nuggets…

Now, I’m not sure about you but I had no idea what TBHQ was so I looked it up. Come to find out that it is a cosmetic form of petroleum-yup-Butane. Oh YUMMY! “Pass the lighter fluid Mom!, but don’t forget the sauce with HFCS!” Sure they soak the corn in battery acid but that’s ok right? And that’s not all that’s bad about corn sugar. Did you know that it contains MERCURY? What the HECK! Here is an excerpt from The Washington Post published in Jan. of 2009 that talks about just that.

Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies…In the first study, published in current issue of Environmental Health, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS.

And in the second study, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit watchdog group, found that nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury. The chemical was found most commonly in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments. 

This is from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Micheal Pollan with regards to TBHQ:

‘But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to “help preserve freshness.” According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.’

Now granted five grams of TBHQ is a lot, but why eat any? Why not just eat food?

Oh and what about dimethylpholysiloxane? Huh? Here is the definition, but you probably know it better as silly putty.

di·meth·yl pol·y·si·lox·ane (d-mthl pl-s-lksn)

A polymer composed of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms and having two methyl groups attached; it can, depending on molecular weight, have properties ranging from oils to plastics.

I think the moral of the story is that if you can’t actually PRONOUNCE the food particles that you and your little children are eating, than you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Buy ingredients, not packages. And remember that just because something says it’s organic, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

I am working on a recipe to make REAL chicken nuggets that are kid approved. I plan on making it in batches to freeze so I can have a quick kid meal on hand. Have one to share? Please do so. UPDATE: I just posted my chicken nugget recipe! Turned out great!

And if you feel upset and lost by this article and feel like you’ve been doing things so wrong for so long- don’t. Ditch the guilt and make a change today, start small and take it from there. And if you want someone to hold your hand as you transition to Real Food then consider investing in you and your family’s health and take Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s 12 week E-Course that is designed to do just that. It is so worth it, and you won’t regret it.

Thanks for reading my rant…hope you got through it and thanks for doing so! Pass it along!

This post is shared on Simply Lives Thursday #43

Are you a Real Food Rookie?

Even Real Food pros can benefit from this easy to follow and implement E-Course that Kelly the Kitchen Kop is offering. And if you do happen to be a rookie then you should sign up without hesitating. I really wish I had something like this when I first underwent my food conversion several years ago. It would have saved countless hours on the internet reading about what the heck real food is and why we need it. It would have saved time scouring the library in their limited section on healthy food-time spent away from my family and being able to actually prepare the food.

This class will help guide you in so many ways. Below you will find a list of the topics in the 12 week class. You can take the class as a whole series and save on the overall price, or if you just want to try out one or two classes they are a very reasonably priced. They individual classes are $20-$25 each. But you can save by buying the FULL 12-WEEK CLASS$190 – Only $145 EXTENDED PROMOTIONAL RATE until May 12th













Also included in the registration:

  • All registrations include lifetime access, and as soon as you sign up, you also have immediate access to all class materials!
  • All registrations include access to the coupons and discounts page!
  • Sign ups for the full 12-week online class include a Real Food Ingredient Guide and access to the members-only forum  (Not included with single class purchases.)
  • 30-day no risk refund policy

Here is another sneak peek to what you will see in The Real Food for Rookies E-Course-check out the trans-fat trickery going on the cereal box labels:

Spiced Apple Pop-Over

Spiced Apple Pop-Over

I have been making different variations of this dish for several years. During Christmas I do individual pop-overs baked in muffin tins filled with goat cheese and herbs. My family can’t get enough of them and they are so simple yet FUN to eat. They fluff up pretty high sometimes, hence the name pop-overs. Served plain and made with beef drippings this recipe is also know as yorkshire pudding in England, which is a much loved culinary tradition.

I usually make my pop-overs with butter, but this time I wanted to try some of my freshly rendered lard that I got from an Amish farm that’s fairly local to me. This dish is a great way to to incorporate more eggs in your diet without serving eggs for breakfast all the time. This is the best and easiest recipe I have found and have used it several times, and it always works. Traditionally this is made using a pre-heated cast iron skillet but the recipe that this one came from said to just put it in a cold oven. Works for me! I just used a rounded deep-dish pie plate so it’s very versatile.

And also note that this IS a compromise food as it does contain some white flour. I sort of figured that was a reasonable cheat because of the pastured eggs, healthy fat, and raw milk. If you use another type of flour please let me know! Especially if you incorporate a soaking step. This one I made on a weekday morning when my kids where ready to eat. I have gotten into the habit of laying everything out the night before ready to be mixed with the eggs, milk, and melted fat in the am. This cuts down on time even more! (Recipe adapted from “Perfect Recipes for Having People Over” by Pam Anderson)

Here’s what you need:

1 1/2 cups organic unbleached white flour (see update below for my soaked whole wheat version-much better!)

1 1/2 cups hormone and anti-biotic free whole milk (grass fed always preferred, raw even better)

4 local eggs

2 tbls. lard or butter ( I bet you could use coconut oil too though)

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon or more depending on taste

1 tsp. rapadura (whole cane sugar) or even real maple syrup

1 tsp. baking soda (the original recipe didn’t call for this but I added it for more lift)

1 cored and thinly cut organic apple (optional but yummy)

The How To:

This is very simple. Just combine all of the ingredients and blend well. You might want to slightly beat the eggs separately for easier incorporation. And like I said before, most of the can be prepped the night before to save time as well. Next just generously grease about an 8 x 8 inch glass pan, cast iron skillet, or even a pie plate as I used and pour in the mixture. (The last time I made this I used an oval cast iron au gratin pan that I have from Le Creuset and it worked great and was very elegant for serving as well.) Place in your cold oven and turn it on to 425 degrees. Now sit back and peek at it every now and then, (but only if you have a window on the stove-don’t open the stove until ready to serve or it can cause it to fall) watching it get bigger and bigger until it is slightly browned on top. Takes about 35 mins.Serve immediately as this dish does fall pretty quickly. Serve with warm grade B maple syrup if desired.

Mine didn’t rise as much as it usually does this time. When I make it in muffin tins they rise really high! But I’m not sure how that would fare with the apples which is why is was slightly denser this time-but still fantastic. You could also omit the apples and cinnamon and add cheddar cheese and bacon pieces. MMM! Lots of possibilities!  Hope you enjoy!

Serves about 6

UPDATE: So I went ahead and tried this with freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour that soaked overnight. The results were FANTASTIC. Even better than with the white flour. It was almost a completely different dish though. It didn’t end up rising so much and instead tasted more like a baked french toast. SO tasty! What I did was soak the fresh flour in the 1 1/2 cups whole grass-fed milk and added about 3 tbls. of apple cider vinegar (but you could do part milk, part kefir or buttermilk with similar results) overnight and added the egg, fat, and the pre-measured dry ingredients. I highly recommend trying it this way! It makes it 100% good for you and even taste the best!

This recipe is shared at Fresh Bites Friday 5/6 , Real Food Weekly 5/5The Hearth and Soul blog hop #47 21st century housewife , Real Food Wednesday 5/11/,  Monday Mania 5/23, Hartke is online weekend blog carnival 5/23

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