Recipe Friday: Peanut Butter Crispy Scotchies

RecipeFridayPeanutButterCrispyScotchies

Yield: 8×8 pan

I have always had a weakness for Rice Krispie Scotchies. But I wanted my treat to be a bit more healthy.

So, I came up with this yummy recipe that uses no sugar. The sweetness comes from dates. If you add the optional frosting (I DO 🙋‍♀️) then there’s the sugar; but you can find chips with natural sugars, too.

An alternate for the chopped dates is to use date sugar (dried and powdered dates).  Just stir 2/3 cup date sugar in with the melting butter, and omit the water. (Note: while I enjoy date sugar for baking, it is powdered dates, and it doesn’t dissolve. At all. Not so good for stirring into coffee.)

date sugar

Also, I found an organic, brown rice crispy cereal to use in these.

These treats don’t have the corn syrup “glue” to hold them together, so they are a bit more crumbly than the regular ones. But yum, they taste good!

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup water

8 ounces chopped dates

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups crispy rice cereal

Optional Frosting

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Butter an 8-inch-square pan, OR line the pan with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, stir together and mash gently the water and chopped dates until the dates are smooth. Simmer two minutes or until most of the moisture evaporates.

Add the butter, stir until melted.
Add the peanut butter. Cook and stir until peanut butter is melted (CAREFUL – this burns easily!).

Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat.

Pour rice cereal into the pan and mix well.
Press mixture into prepared pan.

For optional frosting:

In a small saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup butterscotch chips, and 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.
Pour melted mixture over peanut butter mixture; spread evenly.
Refrigerate at least one hour, uncovered. Cover for additional refrigeration.

Kathy’s Buckwheat Date Muffins

RecipeFridayKathysBuckwheatDateMuffins

Buckwheat muffins are my current favorite healthy snack. I like to add chopped dates, but you can substitute any fruit you like: raisins, currants, dried cherries or cranberries… Hm, I’m thinking even chopped apples would work.

These muffins are gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free. Depending on your tastes and dietary restrictions or freedoms, you can substitute other flours; you can use an egg instead of the flaxseed and water; you can use dairy milk; and you can use melted butter instead of the olive oil.

Flours: Oats are naturally gluten-free, as is buckwheat. Check your sources, or read the label: many times oats, especially, are processed in facilities that also process gluten ingredients. If you are gluten-sensitive, make sure your flours are indeed gluten-free. I have also made these with sweet white sorghum flour (also gluten-free), and they turned out well. Other gluten-free flour options: millet, coconut, almond, quinoa, and cassava.

These have a nice, chewy texture. You may substitute maple syrup for the coconut palm sugar; the dough will be a bit less stiff. Also, I haven’t tried it yet, but I think adding some molasses would be tasty. If you use liquid sweetener, add it to the “wet bowl” instead of the “dry bowl” ingredients.

Ingredients:

The “wet bowl:”

  • 2 heaping tablespoons ground flaxseed (measure, then grind) mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (oat, rice, coconut, almond, soy…)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped dates

The “dry bowl:”

  • 1 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
  • however much cinnamon and nutmeg you like

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.
In a small bowl, add ground flax seed (and the water), milk, oil, and dates. Whisk together to mix completely.
In a medium-size bowl, add flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk any lumps out.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients; mix together just until moistened. (This is a stiff batter.)
Divide batter between 12 muffin cups.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

These freeze really well.

Recipe Friday: Fasting

Fasting has been an important aspect of cultures around the world for many thousands of years. It was originally conducted as a means of deepening one’s spiritual condition. God instituted fasting for some really good reasons. It’s not only good for the spirit, but also the soul and the body.

There are many types of fasting. Generally, fasting refers to abstaining from food, sometimes also from drink. But some fast from other consumables, such as media fasting, spoken fasting (mute for a period of time), or fasting from a particular favorite activity.

Food fasting may refer to full or partial fasting: a fast may exclude all foods, or only desserts or only lunch, for example.

Fasting may extend for varying lengths of time. Some people do intermittent fasting on a regular basis for health reasons: they eat only between limited times (say, 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.) and fast until the next day. Other fasting may involve a one-day fast, a three-day fast, or an extended fast of up to 40 days (as Jesus did, and others in the Bible).

When fasting from liquids as well as solid food, it is important to limit beverage fasting to no more than one day. Water is fine to consume on an extended fast.

DISCLAIMER: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before embarking on a food or beverage fast of any length of time. This applies to those who, for example, have diabetes, take medications, and are pregnant.

Why fast?

It is good for physical health. More and more research shows that fasting is one of the healthiest ways to cleanse the body’s systems.

  • Recent research shows that fasting is good for those entering cancer therapies (chemo or radiation).
  • Fasting improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat percentages
  • Fasting releases the body from the ongoing work of digesting and appropriating nutrients, so that it can perform important work of eliminating built-up toxins. This is why we don’t feel hungry when we’re sick: our bodies are trying to clean out the junk.
  • “Fasting helps boost immunity in all sorts of ways. Autophagy clears out toxins and wastes that are bogging your system down, while simultaneously stimulating regrowth and vitality of cells in every single organ and metabolic process” **
  • Fasting decreases inflammation, and thereby improves inflammatory disease conditions.
  • Fasting helps in weight loss. This may seem a “duh” bullet point because of course you’re going to lose weight if you don’t eat; but because fasting helps clean out toxins, continued bodily functions run smoother after a fast. Try not to make weight loss the primary function of fasting. First, you’ll likely gain the weight back within a few days. Also, fasting is for much deeper purposes: spiritual, emotional, and health purposes.
  • Research shows that fasting is also beneficial to the brain and emotions. By clearing out the body’s “garbage,” your mind becomes clearer and your brain doesn’t have to fight the toxin-induced fog. You feel lighter and less burdened. Neurons fire more accurately. Fasting helps regenerate the protective coating of neuropaths.
  • Part of the “junk” that fasting clears out are cancerous and pre-cancerous cells.
  • “When the body is in a fasting state rather than a fed state, the immune system hunts down mutated cells, and breaks them down. The white blood cells and killer T cells, for instance, are highly energized when you’re deprived of food, and they become very active. This discovery is considered so important, that it won the Nobel Prize for researcher Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi in 2016.” *
  • “When the body has no other fuel, it feeds its cells and does cleanup work by metabolizing cancerous growths and breaking down yeasts, mold, fungi, viral, bacterial, and many other aberrant cells and growths.” *
  • “One study shows fasting to be regenerative for insulin production, as the pancreas repairs itself during a period with no food. The results weren’t short term; months later, they remained.” *
  • “New studies show that fasting may actually ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and even improve our memory and mood.”*

More important considerations for fasting are the spiritual ramifications. God has much to say about fasting in His Word:

  • Joel 2.12-14 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye evento me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
  • Nehemiah 9.1-3 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God onefourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
  • Daniel 9.3-5 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments.
  • Esther 4.3, 15-17 And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there wasgreat mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes… Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
  • Psalms 35.13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing wassackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
  • Matthew 17.19, 21 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
  • Acts 13.2, 3 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid theirhands on them, they sent them
  • Acts 13.23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

From these verses we see that:

  • fasting strips us of our focus on the flesh
  • it prepares us for communing with God’s Spirit
  • it steers our focus to things other than our physical needs (Colossians 3.2 Set yourminds on the things above, not the things on the earth)
  • it sharpens our minds, spiritually and physically
  • it hones our prayers
  • it is a physical demonstration that we are putting aside things of the flesh to concentrate on God and take Him seriously
  • it positions us to receive direction from God.

God directs us to fast because He knows it is good for us; it is a blessing that we cannot comprehend unless we actually do it.

When you are fasting, you can take the time you usually use for preparing meals, and use that time in Bible reading and prayer.

Preparing for a fast:

If you’re going to go on an extended fast, it’s best to do some prep work:

  • Stop eating junk food for several days or a week prior to the fast. You’ll need to give your body some healthy nutrients before going into a fast.
  • Prepare your home. Remove junk foods from your view. Talk with your family and explain what you’re doing. It will be important to have the support of your family.
  • Some people leave home when they fast, so the temptation of food is not around, and to have some quiet spiritual time.
  • Prepare yourself mentally. Going without food is tough. If you plan for an extended fast, be prepared to suffer intense hunger, food cravings, anxiety, and anger for a day or two. Starting on Day 3, these usually abate and you are able to continue in peace.
  • Some people, when on an extended fast, allow some beverages, such as unsweetened hot or iced herbal teas, protein drinks, or smoothies.
  • Consider what kinds of physical activities you will be able to perform while on your fast. People respond to fasting in varied ways. Some have energy; some must lie in bed all day.
  • Prepare some salt sole and some stinging nettle tea. The water we drink is not the same as what our ancestors drank from their wells and rivers. Our filtered water doesn’t contain the rich mineral content as does natural water from the ground. Our tap water contains toxins. During your fast, you will need to replace important electrolytes for your body to function properly.
    • Salt sole: Use a glass or glazed ceramic container with a lid. Pour filtered water into the container. Add enough natural, mineral salt to create a saturated solution (for example, add ¼ cup salt to one quart water). Shake or stir thoroughly. Cover the container and allow the salt residue to settle. To drink, scoop out one teaspoon of the salt sole (don’t scoop out any residue) to add to 8 oz. of filtered water. (Note: Do NOT use commercial, white table salt. Make sure you are using a natural mineral salt, such as pink Himalayan or Dead Sea salt.)
    • Stinging nettle tea: Add hot water to dried stinging nettle tea leaves. A ratio you might use is ¼ cup to a quart of water. Simmer or keep hot for at least 20 minutes. You may turn off the heat and allow the leaves to continue steeping for hours, even overnight. If you have insulated the teapot and are keeping it warm, just let it set all day. Drink hot, room temp, or cold.
  • While you are fasting for spiritual and physical detoxification, please also consider other substances to remove from your daily routine. These would include any chemically-laden personal care products. If you are fasting, and your body is trying to remove toxins, PLEASE discontinue use of commercial products, so you are not shooting yourself in the foot, so to speak. While your body odor may increase, please do not resort to using deodorant or antiperspirant that contains harmful substances. A wet washcloth will do a fine job of cleansing any body parts. Essential oils, diluted with a carrier oil, provide a pleasing scent with the added bonus of antimicrobial power. If you have oral odors, you can brush your teeth (and tongue) more often. Simply brushing with water will do the trick; you can swish with a cup of water with a drop of peppermint or clove essential oil mixed in. When washing your hair, use a clean, non-toxic shampoo like Castile for hair and body. Rinse with diluted vinegar. Discontinue use of lotions. Check labels for all your products: whatever you put on your skin goes into your body. Note also that commercial air fresheners and scented candles contain toxins, and are not recommended while detoxifying (or any time at all).
  • Have healthy food available for when you come off your fast.

While you are fasting:

Continue to take your prescription medications while fasting. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

You can also continue to take supplements while fasting. Be aware that you may feel nauseous when you take some supplements on an empty stomach. If you have issues, consider taking them at different intervals, or cutting down how many or what types you take while you fast.

Sip on your salt sole and / or stinging nettle tea regularly.

Day 2 of a water-only fast is usually the toughest. That’s when the rubbery legs set in, brain fog might be stronger, and your energy levels plummet. Know that this falls within the normal realm. If your body is warning you of something, though, pay attention and consider alternatives.

Fasting moves your body systems into a whole different realm of activity. Your body is getting rid of toxins, and those toxins have to get out somehow. The routes for elimination are urine, feces, exhaling, mucous/tears, hair and nails, ear wax, skin/cell shedding, and pores (sweat). Don’t be alarmed when you notice some physical, emotional, and mental changes while fasting (Note: fasting reactions will be more severe if you have a lot of toxins in your system. This can be due to body care products, environment, or eating a lot of sugar / processed foods.):

  • Body odor: Toxins are usually stinky. You may wish to shower or bathe more frequently; use only water, and apply natural products if needed.
  • Skin changes: especially if you already have occasional skin breakouts, you may have more of them as your body detoxes through your pores. This may look like acne or some kind of rash. Keep your skin clean with water, and use natural, organic products as needed.
  • Feeling cold: Since you’re not consuming calories, you don’t generate heat as you normally do. Prepare with extra layers of clothing, socks, blankets, and maybe a space heater if this happens to you.
  • Headache: Headaches are a common side-effect of fasting. Headaches will certainly be more severe if you are used to eating a lot of sugar and processed foods. It’s because you’re going through withdrawal. This is also likely to happen if you’re a coffee drinker (or soda or chocolate, or other high-caffeine source) and you’re giving up caffeine. Hang in there! The headache usually diminishes after the second or third day. In the meantime, you may want to take warm baths, sip salt sole or stinging nettle tea, take some turmeric supplements, incorporate neck & shoulder massages, practice yoga, meditate, do stretches or exercises, and/or take naps. Try diffusing essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, Frankincense, and/or rosemary. Meditate with calming music. Massage diluted peppermint oil into your temples.
  • Heart pounding: if this rises to alarming levels, you may need to break your fast with some bone broth, herbal tea, or other healing remedy.
  • Muscle cramping: Be sure to perform some kind of stretching / exercise often during your fasting days. A lot of detoxifying happens with the constriction and relaxation of muscles. Take a walk, do mild stretches, dance, etc. You may need to supplement with magnesium: a good source is stinging nettle tea. Salt sole will help relieve this, as well.
  • Thirst: When you fast, your body is craving water so it can flush out toxins. Be sure to drink plenty of filtered water. You may want to experiment with amounts of water you drink at any one time: too much can lead to a “sloshy belly,” and nausea. Pay attention to your thirst, and drink accordingly.
  • Oral changes: your tongue may develop a white coating. Simply use your toothbrush and some water. Rinse with a drop of peppermint or clove essential oil in a cup of water. You can gargle with that mixture, as well. Spit it out.
  • Changes in your urine: the color and frequency may change. Be sure to drink plenty of filtered water. Sometimes people like to drink an herbal tea (unsweetened, no additions).
  • Change in your stools: the color, texture, and frequency of your stools may be different.
  • Energy levels: When you don’t eat, you aren’t consuming calories for energy. Get plenty of rest. Detoxifying is serious work that takes energy. Energy levels vary widely among those who fast: some have higher energy levels, some can hardly wake up or move around, and all levels in-between. If you feel light-headed or sick, you may not be a good candidate for an extended fast.
  • Emotional changes: you may be more prone to crying or feeling anger. Make sure to spend ample time in prayer and meditation and resting.
  • Mental changes: This is another area with varying results among those who fast. Some people experience deeper brain fog; others feel clear-headed and able to break through that “brain fog.”

After the fast:

An important aspect of fasting is what you eat AFTER the fast. After you’ve spent the time and energy to fast, and after you’ve cleaned out your toxins, you want to rebuild and feed your body with clean, healthy foods. DO NOT give in to whatever insane junk food cravings you have. Be very careful, and consume cautiously at first, with maybe some warm bone broth. Graduate to easily-digested raw greens. Stay with healthy, organic foods so you can build your strength and body systems back up. Be very careful with any personal care products you use.

Your stools may surprise you the day you break your fast. The color, odor, and consistency will likely be different as you start eating, which moves your bowels, and out comes whatever toxins and other stuff that’s been in there.

Final notes:

Please prayerfully consider a fast unto the Lord. It is a powerful way to draw near to God (James 4.8a Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you). It really is life-changing.

Robyn Openshaw (aka The Green Smoothie Girl) has done extensive research about fasting. I highly recommend reading the information in these links:

*https://greensmoothiegirl.com/water-fasting/

**https://greensmoothiegirl.com/water-fasting-vs-modified-fasting/

Recipe Friday: Bug Repellent

RecipeFridayBugSpray

Thanks to my good buddy, Amy, for the recommendation to do a bug repellent recipe. Head over to Amy’s blog for poems to inspire, praise, and be edified in the Lord.

As bug season starts up, we’re looking around for ways to protect ourselves from bites. Bugs are irritating visitors, but they are definitely God’s creation, so they have a purpose and we have to live with them.

To live more comfortably, here are some ideas to make your own bug spray, using healthy and natural ingredients.

In my research, I relied on one of my favorite sites, Natural Living Family, hosted by Dr Eric Zelinski and his wife, Sabrina: https://naturallivingfamily.com/

One of the main reasons to make your own bug spray is that you can control the ingredients that go into the spray. DEET may be popular as an effective repellent, but there are some harmful side effects, and natural remedies are just as effective, if not more so. Read about problems with using DEET here: https://naturallivingfamily.com/essential-oils-for-bug-bites/

A good bug repellent can be as simple as a carrier oil and some essential oils.

To start with, use a carrier oil that suits your body. My personal favorite is jojoba, as it absorbs quickly and is a clean oil (not heavy or greasy). Other suggestions are avocado oil, fractionated coconut, grapeseed, and sweet almond. Oils that are a bit heavier (to prevent premature evaporation) are coconut oil, neem, and soybean oil. Olive oil is a heavier oil.

Other ingredients you may want to add are witch hazel and aloe gel.

If you are making a one-ounce container of bug spray, you’ll need 10 – 15 drops of essential oils to the combination of carrier oil/s and other ingredients.

Good essential oils for repelling bugs:

  • Cedar wood
  • Clove (reported as being the most effective)
  • Citronella
  • Lemon eucalyptus
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree
  • Cypress
  • Lemon myrtle

A sample recipe for filling a 1-ounce spray bottle is:

        • 1 tablespoon witch hazel
        • 1 teaspoon aloe gel
        • 3 drops lemongrass essential oil
        • 2 drops peppermint essential oil
        • 1 drops lavender essential oil
        • 1 drop thyme essential oil
        • carrier oil

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a 1-ounce glass spray bottle. Add enough carrier oil of choice to fill the bottle. Shake well to mix.

Or you may want to use only the carrier oil and essential oils.

These repellent remedies do not last all day. Re-apply every 90 min  – 2 hours.

Please also be aware that some essential oils are NOT good to use in the sun, as they may cause photosensitivity (you might burn more easily). Such is not usually the case if diluted well with a carrier oil (i.e., if you have a drop or two in your 1-ounce bottle, along with other, non-photosensitive essential oils).

Essential oils not good for use in the sun:

  • Angelica
  • Bergamot
  • Bitter Orange (cold pressed)
  • Lemon (cold pressed)
  • Lime (cold pressed)
  • Fig Leaf Absolute
  • Mandarin Leaf
  • Tagetes
  • Cumin
  • Rue

As with using any product on your skin, if you have not used it before, do a small test patch first to make sure it is safe for you.

If you got bit anyway, try out a Bite and Sting remedy:

In a 10 ml roller bottle, add 5 drops of lavender essential oil, 5 drops of tea tree essential oil, and enough carrier oil to fill the bottle. Shake. Apply directly to stings, bites, and scrapes to relieve itch and sting.

Recipe Friday: Black Drawing Salve

RecipeFridayBlackDrawingSalve

This stuff just looks like it means business. And it does.

Black salve is a drawing salve that draws impurities like bites and splinters out of the skin. Apply it to a splinter or a boil, bandage the affected skin.
Applied over a bite or sting, it can draw out the irritation. If you see a stinger embedded, you can scrape it out first, then apply the salve.
A light splinter could move to the surface of the skin in a few hours. Deep slivers may need the salve reapplied.
Be careful when stirring it, and when applying it: you don’t want it on clothing or bedding, etc. Once applied, wrap with a cloth or bandage. It can be re-applied as often as needed.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil OR shea butter or cocoa butter
  • 1 tablespoon beeswax
  • 1 tablespoon activated charcoal *

Directions

Melt the olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax together. Once it is fully melted, remove from the heat and carefully stir in the charcoal. The charcoal tends to fly so you’ll want to be gentle in the stirring. Continue stirring while the mixture cools and thickens. Transfer to a salve tin. Label and date.

This mixture will keep for at least a year.

* 1 tablespoon activated charcoal = 8 – 10 260mg capsules

Recipe Friday: Pickled Red Onions

RecipeFridayPickledRedOnionsimage from google images

These are so easy to make, and so tasty, you’ll want to make them often.

What to do with tangy, delicious, radiant red onions? Here are a few ideas:

  • Top a sloppy joe
  • Add to a salad
  • Serve along with eggs
  • Top toast with onions and avocado
  • Taco topping
  • Tuck into sandwiches and wraps
  • Burger topping
  • Onion and cucumber sandwich with a bit of cheese
  • Top a vegetable dish

Onions are so nutritious: they are a good source of Vitamin C; onions have a high content of antioxidants; they are anti-inflammatory; they are very rich in healthy soluble fibers (fructans), which are prebiotic fibers; prebiotic fibers feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut; they are a source of folate (B9), B6, and potassium. Onions are naturally fat- and cholesterol-free, and are a source of dietary fiber. Onions contain nutrients linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

There is even a National Onion Association website to help you learn more about this amazing vegetable: https://www.onions-usa.org/.

Use raw, apple cider vinegar in this recipe, and don’t cook it. Cooking destroys many of the beneficial compounds in both the onions and the vinegar.

I list two different lists of ingredients, one with sweetener and one without. If you use a sweetener, please use a nutritional sweetener, such as maple syrup, honey, or sucanat.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sweetener
  • 1 1/2 tsp natural salt
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • medium red onion, thinly sliced

Alternate Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 small red onions (or 1 large), sliced

Directions:

Mix first four ingredients together in a jar and add sliced onion. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Optional ingredients to add in:

  • garlic cloves
  • jalapeno peppers
  • peppercorns
  • bay leaf

Recipe Friday: Comforting Oatmeal

RecipeFridayComfortingOatmeal

When I want a little comfort food, I like it to be healthy, especially when there are unpleasant bugs going around. I want to be careful not to compromise my immune system with sugar; however, comfort often means sweet (at least, a little).

Enter a traditional favorite: oatmeal.

I go heavy on the spices because they’re so good for the immune system, and they also lend a bit of sweetness. And don’t be afraid to throw in the butter. Good food includes plenty of healthy fats: fats are not only good for the body’s systems and your brain, they also carry the flavor.

Kathy’s Comforting Oatmeal

Serves 3 – 4

Ingredients:

4 or 5 hours before, or the night before:

  • 2 cups oats (use whatever is on hand: rolled / old fashioned; quick; use only 1/2 cup if using steel cut oats)
  • Filtered water
  • 2 Tbs kefir or yogurt

When you make it:

  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp each of powdered spices: nutmeg, cloves, allspice
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • Several dashes Himalayan or mineral salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Optional ingredients:

  • Fresh or dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped dates, or fresh or frozen peaches
  • Sweetener (you may not need this with the fruit), such as pure maple syrup, sucanat, stevia, or coconut palm sugar
  • Dairy or non-dairy milk
  • Peanut butter (I know – weird – but I tried it once and I like it)

Directions:

  • Put the oats into a medium-size saucepan. Add enough water to cover the oats. (You’ll need extra water for steel cut oats: the ratio is 1:4, i.e., if you use ½ cup oats, then 2 cups water.) Add the kefir or yogurt, and stir. Allow to soak 4 or 5 hours, or overnight. (I discuss benefits of soaking grains here.)
  • When you are ready to prepare your oatmeal, put the oats on to a low simmer until cooked: 5 minutes for quick oats; 10 minutes for rolled / old fashioned oats; 15-20 minutes for steel cut oats.
  • Add the spices, butter, salt, and vanilla.
  • Add optional ingredients.
  • Stir together and heat it back up.
  • Serve hot.

Sometimes I make “Apple Raisin Stuff:” I chop up apples, add a little water and some raisins, and simmer until the apples are soft. I throw in some cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice. I keep it in the ‘fridge or freezer to use in pies or to mix some into my oatmeal.

What do you like to put in your oatmeal?

Recipe Friday: Calendula Oil

RecipeFridayCalendulaOil2

Ah, calendula (aka marigold)! It is known to be a soothing remedy for skin.

According to Sade Musa at https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/calendula-oil/ :

This powerful medicinal plant is beloved around the world, finding its way into countless home remedies and commercial skin care products, especially on account of its skin-restorative abilities. Calendula is a premier skin support herb with broad medicinal use. Applied externally, Calendula is a powerful wound healer: soothing traumatized, inflamed tissue and stimulating rapid growth of healthy skin cells.1 Calendula not only helps wounds heal quicker, it reduces their risk of becoming infected and scarred.2 The astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of the herb grant its ability to not only treat, but prevent, sunburns3 – while its moistening nature hydrates dry, itchy skin. Calendula also has an affinity for the lymphatic system: addressing fluid stagnation, supporting the elimination of toxins, and relieving conditions such as varicose veins, bruises, and sore muscles. Massaging Calendula oil into your skin daily can help to achieve healthy, toned skin.


Text from https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/calendula-oil/
Copyright © 2020 LearningHerbs.

Another good site: https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/making-herbal-oils

Please go to either of the above-listed websites to learn more about this calming, beneficial herb and how to prepare it for home use.

You can infuse calendula into a carrier oil, and then use that infused oil on your skin as-is, or as an ingredient in salves and ointments.

Please be sure to use organic calendula flowers and organic oil, so you’re not mixing unwanted chemicals in with your precious oil.

If you infuse calendula in oil, make sure to dry the flowers first, as the moisture in the flowers may cause the infusion to go rancid.

You may put the dried flowers into a blender first, to grind them slightly. This provides more surface area for the oil to absorb the good properties.

The basic recipe is to fill a glass container about ½ full with the dried flowers. Then fill the container almost full with your preferred carrier oil: I use jojoba most of the time, but other possibilities are olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.

Many recipes I see call for soaking the dried flowers in the oil in a warm spot (i.e., sunny window) for 4-6 weeks. Make sure the oil completely covers the flowers by a good margin to prevent air reaching the flowers and causing mold. Put a lid on it. Cover with a paper bag to protect from damaging UV rays. Shake the container once a day.

A faster method (anywhere from 4 to 24 hours):

  • Use a heat-proof glass container, such as a Pyrex measuring cup or Mason jar. Do not put a lid on it.
  • Use a low heat source such as a crock pot, yogurt maker, or oven; temp should be 250 – 300 degrees. Alternatively, you can use a warm-water bath: Create a double-boiler by placing a canning ring in the pan. Put the flower/oil container in the pan, and fill the pan with warm water (careful not to spill any water into the oil). Put the pan on the stove and turn the heat to lowest setting. Turn the burner off and on occasionally to maintain a temperature between 250 and 300 degrees.
  • Continue heating for 4 – 6 hours, or until the oil takes on the deep color of the flower. If your temperature is low, it may take up to 24 hours.
  • When the oil is ready, take it off the heat and allow to cool.
  • Strain the oil through a potato ricer or fine mesh sieve.
  • For more filtering, strain through a coffee filter.
  • The calendula flowers can be composted.
  • Store in a tightly covered glass container. Dark glass is preferred.
  • If you store the oil in a cool, dark place, it should last 1 – 2 years. Or, keep the oil refrigerated until ready to use. When you use it as an ingredient in an ointment or salve or cream, etc., use that product within a few months.

RecipeFridayCalendulaOilPhoto from https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/calendula-oil/

Recipe Friday: Old Bananas

recipeFridayOldBananas

I like to add a banana to my smoothie in the morning. Old bananas are good for that, since I have a sweet tooth. (Side note: green bananas are high in prebiotics.) But Sometimes I gather too many old bananas. What to do?

The first recipe that comes to mind came from my sister-in-law. She grew up in Indonesia, and knows SO MUCH about fruit, besides being one of the best cooks I know. She slices the banana/s into a bowl, tosses in a little flour and a little milk, stirs it around, and spoons little piles onto an ungreased skillet. Fry ‘em up a couple of minutes on each side. It’s like candy!! They’re good hot, warm, or cold.

Other recipes I’ve gathered or made up:

Banana Apple Oat Cookie

Ingredients:

3                       mashed bananas (ripe)

1/3 cup            applesauce

2 cups             oats

1/4 cup            dairy or non-dairy milk

1/2 cup            raisins (optional)

1 teaspoon     vanilla extract

1 teaspoon     cinnamon

Directions:

Mix together. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake at 350° for 15 – 20 minutes.

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

(Notes: I use egg replacer because I can’t do eggs. If you can, use one egg instead of the egg replacer and water. Also, I used oat flour because I don’t do well with wheat. But use whatever suits you. Same with sweetener. I like to use sucanat.)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons eggs replacer

1 tablespoon water

2 bananas

3 tablespoons softened butter

4 tablespoons plain, organic peanut butter

1 cup quick oats

1/4 cup oat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons baking cocoa

2 tablespoons sweetener

Directions:

Mix together the egg replacer and water, set aside.

Using a fork, mash bananas; mash in butter, then mash in peanut butter.

Stir in oats, flour, baking soda, cocoa, and sweetener. Stir in egg replacer.

Mix well. Spoon about 12 cookies onto a baking sheet. I baked at 450° for 15 minutes, but that was because I was also making meatloaf at the time. 350° is likely fine.

PB&J Oatmeal Cookies

(Notes:

Be sure your bananas are quite ripe, to allow for maximum sweetness.
Idea: put very ripe bananas into the freezer if you need to wait to use them.
These are meant to be eaten right away.
Old-fashioned oats could be substituted, but maybe process them a bit before using.
Feel free to add whatever sounds good to you: raisins or craisins; cinnamon, mini chocolate chips; sweetener; orange zest; coconut; flax seed meal; substitute other nut butters; chopped nuts; fresh fruit or a chocolate kiss instead of the jelly/jam; mashed, cooked pumpkin instead of the banana)

Ingredients:

2                            medium, ripe bananas mashed

1 cup                    uncooked, quick oats

2 tablespoons     peanut butter smooth or chunky, as you like

4 teaspoons        jelly or jam, whatever flavor you like

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a non-stick cookie sheet with cooking spray or use a silpat.
Combine the mashed banana and peanut butter in a medium bowl. Add the oats, mix until thoroughly combined.
Place batter by tablespoons (slightly heaped) on the cookie sheet, making an indent with the back of the spoon. Make 16 cookies.
Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove and top each with 1/4 teaspoon jelly.

Warm Banana Mash

Ingredients:

1               quite ripe banana

1               tbsp butter (can use coconut oil or cocoa butter)

1 dash (to taste) each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves

Directions:

Heat banana (stovetop or microwave) until warm and tender.
Add butter and spices. Use a fork to mash the banana with the butter and spices until smooth. Enjoy warm.

Recipe Friday: Sauerkraut

RecipeFridaySauerkraut

Sauerkraut? Really? Youbetcha. I am all about healing the gut, absorbing the most nutrition possible from the healthy foods we eat, easing digestion, and empowering our immune systems.

Fermented foods fill the bill.

Why not just buy it? Store-bought sauerkraut  is heated at high enough temperatures to kill all the bacteria.  Problem is,  it kills the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. If you make your own, proper fermenting provides the good bacteria.

There are a lot of different fermented foods recipes. You can try many of them out at Wardee Harmon’s site, https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/recipes/44-fermented-probiotic-filled-condiments/ . Wardee is one of my favorite healthy-food-and-lifestyle go-to’s because she tries out whatever she puts out there. She’s done a lot of research and a lot of homework, and she cooks for her family. In another post, https://traditionalcookingschool.com/pod-cast/kyf-156-7-fermenting-mistakes-you-might-be-making/ , she reassures the timid that yes, you really can eat fermented foods. And yes, you really can make them.

Why fermented foods? Fermenting allows healthy bacteria to grow in our food. We eat the healthy bacteria, and that bacteria works in our gut to assist in digestion. That helps us to better absorb nutrients in the food. And it helps whisk the bad bacteria out. Eating fermented foods boosts our immune systems. Fermentation used to be much more common than it is now; folks knew they needed to eat fermented foods along with their meals: yogurt, fermented vegetables, fermented drinks. Food companies have figured out how to make something taste fermented without actually fermenting it, or processing it so that it no longer offers the benefits (store-bought sauerkraut, pickles, pickled beets, etc.). Now it’s a thing we have to talk about because somehow it went out of style; it’s important to bring it back.

Dr. Josh Axe does a nice job of explaining health benefits of fermented food in this article, and lists some common fermented foods: https://draxe.com/nutrition/fermented-foods/ .

You can find numerous youtube videos showcasing homemade sauerkraut. I invite you to do a search and choose a favorite to watch. You’ll see how simple it really is. This is a good one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO90h3xB3oc

And then, much to my surprise, homemade sauerkraut tastes delicious! I’m not much of a sour-tasting kind of gal (I run strongly along sweet-tooth lines). But I enjoy my homemade sauerkraut. Another nice thing about it is, you don’t have to eat very much of it to enjoy the benefits. A few spoonfuls will do the trick. And if you’re suffering from digestive issues, you can drink some sips of just the juice to help alleviate symptoms.

Sauerkraut

Ingredients:

  • Cabbage (red or green; wilted/brown outer leaves removed)
  • Salt (sea salt or Himalayan or mineral salt)
  • Optional ingredients:
    • Onion (red, yellow or white)
    • Carrots
    • Garlic
    • Apple (washed and cored)

Directions:

  1. Notice there are no amounts of each ingredient. That’s on purpose because you can make as much or as little as you want. If you’re using cabbage for another purpose, you can save just a bit aside and try a small batch.
  2. Shred all ingredients into a bowl larger than your pile of ingredients.
  3. Sprinkle with salt. Taste your mixture; you add salt until the mixture tastes pretty salty, but not too much. For one medium cabbage, you can start with a tablespoon of salt.
  4. Use a meat pounder or large spoon and pound the mixture. Alternatively, you can do this with your hands: do a hard massage. You want to bruise the ingredients. You’re looking for the salt to draw out the juices. Pound for five or ten minutes.
  5. Cover the bowl with a dish towel or cheesecloth for 30 minutes.
  6. Pound or massage some more; get those juices flowing.
  7. Transfer the mixture to a CLEAN glass jar.
  8. Push the mixture down so that the liquid covers it. If there is not enough juice to cover the mixture, add filtered water; you need just enough to submerge it. (If you need a lot of water, add some more salt.)
  9. Cover the jar with cloth. (I see most recipes online say to use something to weight-down the mixture inside the jar, and then to cover the jar with a lid. If you use a lid, make sure to open it once or twice per day, to let the expanding gasses out, so the jar doesn’t explode.)
  10. Let the mixture sit on your counter for 3 – 7 days. Each day, take a look at it. There should be bubbles forming. Stick a knife or chopstick down into it to stir it a bit and get the bubbles out. Make sure the solid ingredients stay submerged.
  11. After 3 days, do a smell test. It should smell sour, but not disgusting. Look at it carefully. There should be no mold (if there is mold, throw it away and start again).
  12. Taste it. If you like the way it tastes, put it in the refrigerator and start eating it. If you like, you can keep it on the counter to continue fermenting. Taste it once in a while to see what you like. (Again, if you see mold, or if it smells off, throw it away.) Once or twice each day, stick the knife or chopstick in and massage the bubbles out. There should always be enough liquid to cover the solid mixture. Add filtered water if you need to.
  13. I usually put mine in the ‘fridge after 4 days; but that’s the way I like it.

Your homemade sauerkraut should last in the ‘fridge for about 6 months.

What to do with your sauerkraut?

  • Eat it plain
  • Put a little on a sloppy joe / steamburger / tavern or pulled pork sandwich
  • Top a hot dog or brat
  • Side dish for pork chops, with a little applesauce
  • Drink sips of the liquid to ease digestion or calm a queasy stomach; this can also be a quick boost to your immune system, and is helpful if you feel like you’re coming down with something.
  • Add to a smoothie (a couple of tablespoons adds probiotics, but won’t add much taste)
  • Salad ingredient
  • Add to a tuna sandwich
  • Mix in with potato salad
  • If you cook your sauerkraut, it will kill the beneficial microorganisms. You can enjoy the taste of it cooked. If you like, add some extra, uncooked, to the same dish, to add some probiotics.
    • Reuben sandwich or gourmet grilled cheese
    • Baked sausage & kraut