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Archive for Real Food!

We are blessed to have a year-round Saturday farmer’s market.  It is one of the perks of living in Southern California.  I do my very best to go every week, because the produce I can get there is so much better than in the stores even if I buy organic.  In addition to great farms we also have a really good fish monger who starts his day at about 3:00 in the morning down at the docks buying and processing fish, literally right out of the water.

I recently got inspired to recreate a salmon burger I saw on television.  It looked so good and if it worked, I might even be able to get my dear hubby and girls to like another fish recipe.  (It’s been a long road getting my husband to like fish.)

There are a number of ingredients in this list, but don’t let that deter you.  You probably have most of them around the house.  This recipe packs a huge nutritional punch and if your kids are picky about their vegetables you might be able to sneak these in.

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½ Red Onion, grated
½ Red Bell Pepper, small chop
½ Celery Rib, small chop
1 Green Onion, chopped green parts only
1 Lemon, zest only
4-5 Sprigs Fresh, Flat Leaf Parsley, rough chopped
¼ cup Teff Flour, (any flour can be substituted)
½ cup Bread Crumbs
2 Eggs, beaten
1 lb Fresh, Wild Caught Salmon
½ tsp Dill
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Several Turns Black Pepper from grinder
½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a small bowl, beat eggs; add breadcrumbs.  Allow the breadcrumbs to soak up the egg while you chop the vegetables, approximately 5-10 minutes.

Remove skin from salmon and cut into small pieces.

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Combine red onion, red bell pepper, celery, green onion, lemon zest, parsley, and teff flour in a large bowl, stir to combine.  Stir in soaked breadcrumbs, dill, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.  Once the ingredients are combined, gently stir in salmon.

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Pour the panko on to a separate plate or shallow bowl.  As you make each burger gently place patties into the panko and cover all sides.  (Note:  These will not be “tight” burgers like you would get from ground meat, so handle them gently.)

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Heat a skillet (I like to use cast iron) over medium-high heat; add olive oil.  Fry each pattie for approximately 4 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.

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I served these with my favorite jalapeno tarter sauce and a side of broccoli.  A bun would be good here too, so let your imagination and taste buds run wild!

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These turned out better than I had even hoped!  Dear hubby and both girls really liked these and have asked for them several times!  I call that a success!!

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Categories : Dinner, Real Food!
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Nov
03

Campfire Pocket Stew

Posted by: Kristina Evans | Comments (1)

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Would you believe that Alyssa picked this out as a new recipe for our family to try?  I just love having kids who want to try new foods and who don’t get all squeamish at the mere mention of vegetables!  This was a HUGE hit at our dinner table!  Super easy and healthy, too!

1 Potato, thinly sliced
1 Carrot, thinly sliced
1 Onion, rough chop
¼ cup Green Pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup Fresh Green Beans
¾ cup Gruyere Cheese, (optional, Cheddar or Parmesan would work well also)
2 Large Sausage links (precooked and cut into slices)
Salt & Pepper to taste
4-8 Cabbage Leaves
4 tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat gas grill or prepare a good bed if coals.

Use the cabbage leaves to make a bowl or pocket, place remaining ingredients inside cabbage leaves and close.  Wrap all in aluminum foil shiny side in, and cook on hot grill for approximately 10-15 minutes each side.

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My hubby found the best little organic restaurant last week.  Blue Hen Vietnamese Kitchen, is a gem of a restaurant in Eagle Rock, CA.  It’s nothing fancy and, in fact, sits in a strip mall, but oh, is it good!!

Quoted directly from their menu.

“Blue Hen supports local farms and sustainable farming principles.  We buy from local farms and organic suppliers whenever possible.  When you eat at the Hen, you support good healthy local food.  We make all our food from scratch and use no MSG in our cooking.”

Blue Hen offers a great mix of authentic Vietnamese cuisine with French influence.  We decided to sample the lunch specials.  The girls split the Tofu Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup with rice noodles in broth topped with cilantro and onions.  I had the Chicken Pho and hubby had the Homestyle Chicken Curry.  Each special comes with your choice of Hand Cut Turmeric Fries (yum!) or the Blue Hen Salad, consisting of cabbage, carrots, peanuts, and herbs in a shallot-garlic dressing.  The service was quick and friendly.  The food came out quickly enough to support an on-the-go lunch, but slow enough you knew the food was being made to order.  Presentation was beautiful.  The food really, really good!  At $8, the lunch specials are a great value and will fill you up!

IMG_0280Chicken Pho, garnished with Bean Sprouts, Lime, Jalapeno Peppers, Basil and Vinegar Onions

IMG_0279Blue Hen Salad

It was so good  the girls and I actually went back again yesterday.  Our second trip wasn’t disappointing either!  This time we had to sample a dessert.  We tried the Banana Bread Pudding.  Served warm and drizzled with honey this was truly good eats!!  (Sorry, I don’t have a picture to post.  It disappeared before I even remembered to take my camera out!)

I hope you can make it over to the restaurant and support another great place serving sustainable, organic food!  Take a look at the menu and see if it doesn’t get your mouth watering and your stomach growling!  http://eatatbluehen.com/menu_2.15.10.html

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May
10

Dan’s Kosher Dill Pickles

Posted by: Kristina Evans | Comments (0)

On Mother’s Day, my dear hubby took me to a local farmer’s market.  One of my very favorite places!  While we were there we came across some beautiful pickling cucumbers.  We couldn’t resist!  We filled our bag and headed home to make some dill pickles.

The recipe is from an old friend of ours.  It’s a super easy recipe and a great one to get the kids involved in.  The girls at 8 and 10, practically did the whole thing with only a few tips from Dad.  (A word of caution.  This is a potent dill pickle recipe!)

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20-25 Pickling Cucumbers, thoroughly washed and scrubbed
1/3 cup Kosher Salt
½ – 1 Bulb Fresh Garlic, cloves removed and peeled
3 tbls Dill Seed
1 – 1 ½ tsp Black Peppercorns
2 tbls Fennel Seed
1 tbls Caraway Seed
1 – 1 ½ tsp Whole Cloves
White Vinegar
Water

In a 2-gallon glass jar, add the cucumbers all the way up to the top.  Pour in remaining salt and spices.

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Fill the jar ½ – 2/3 full with white vinegar; finish filling with water.  The amount of vinegar you use is up to you.  If you want a super strong pickle, leave out the water and use only vinegar.  If a slightly more mild flavor suits you, then use the ½ to 2/3 rule.

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Seal lid making sure there are no leaks.  Shake to distribute ingredients.

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Refrigerate for 3-6 weeks, giving the jar a good shake every 2-3 days, until they are as potent as you like.

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May
09

Rose Petal Jelly

Posted by: Kristina Evans | Comments (0)

I was feeling romantic when I got up this morning.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the roses, well they’ve been blooming in the way they do only in Southern California.  (Rose Parade anyone?)  What’s a girl to do?  I made Rose Petal Jelly!  This recipe was super easy!  If you’ve never made a jelly, jam or butter, then this is a good one to try.  Then make some scones and voila, tea time in the garden!

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4 cups Filtered Water
1 Lemon, juiced (approximately 2 tbls worth)
2 cups Sugar (I used unprocessed, organic.)
4 tsp Dry Pectin (I used Pomona’s Universal Pectin.  Adjust the amount you use, for the type of pectin you have on hand.)
4 tsp Calcium Water (Included in the Pomona’s Universal Pectin.)
2 cups Rose Petals

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Collect rose petals from your most fragrant roses.  The more fragrant the more flavor you will have in the jelly.  I used the petals from my favorite rose, Yves Piaget.  Gently wash the petals in cold water and drain.

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In a standard blender, place the rose petals and water.  Pulse until the petals are roughly chopped.

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Pour rose petal mixture into, a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; turn off heat immediately, cover and let sit for 30 minutes.  (This allows the rose petals to infuse the water with all their yummy rose flavor and fragrance.)

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Strain the liquid through a strainer to remove the petals.  (The first strain didn’t seem to get all the little pieces, so I did a second straining with a layer of cheesecloth to make sure I got them.)

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Return the liquid to the saucepan; add lemon juice and calcium water.  Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, measure sugar into a small bowl; thoroughly mix pectin powder into sugar.

Add pectin-sugar to the saucepan and stir vigorously; return to a boil; continue boiling for 1-2 minutes to dissolve sugar completely.

Pour into sterilized jars, seal and refrigerate.

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Last February my family began a journey with food.  Our goal was to remove processed foods from our diet, along with any other foods not meeting some simple standards.  (You can read that post here.)  In the end we have cut out everything without an organic label, including items labeled “natural” and we purchase all of our produce from our local farmer’s market.  We feel great physically.  We feel great about our contribution to living healthier for the environment.

Recently an article was published by The Cornucopia Institute revealing how the makers of some of the most popular protein bars are using hexane in their processing of soy.  Hexane is a chemical made from crude oil.  It’s considered toxic and can lead to impaired fertility, central nervous system depression and prolonged exposure can lead to serious health damage.  The Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration’s report on hexane states in humans, “hexane is a narcotic agent, an irritant to the eyes, upper respiratory tract and skin; and a neurotoxin.”  Why do makers of protein bars use this chemical?  Hexane is a cheap method of separating the soybean oil from the protein.

Once again “cheap” prevails and chemicals seep into our food supply.  The most frustrating part of this is that these foods can be labeled “natural.”  When will our food companies stop this nonsense?  When will the government actually do it’s job of protecting people instead of protecting the almighty dollar?  I don’t have an answer, but I do have a solution…  I can make my food with wholesome ingredients in my kitchen.  Right now I think this might be one of the only solutions to the problem!  Make your voice heard, let your food purchases, or lack of,  be a vote in eliminating chemicals in food.

Here’s my version of a great little protein bar…  Peanut Butter Crunch Protein Bar

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Mar
03

Peanut Butter Crunch Protein Bar

Posted by: Kristina Evans | Comments (0)

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2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
½ cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
½ cup Sliced Almonds
¼ cup Oat Bran
1 cup Puffed Rice Cereal (optional)
¼ cup Unsweetened Coconut
2 Tbls Ground Flaxseed
2 Tbls Unsalted Butter
½ cup Creamy Peanut Butter
½ cup Honey
2 medium Eggs
1 cup Chocolate Chips

*Canola Oil, for pan

*Canola Oil, for pan

Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and lightly oil.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and oat bran onto a half-sheet pan.  Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring once.

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Meanwhile, combine the butter, peanut butter and honey in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook until the butter is melted and the ingredients are smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.

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Once the oat mixture is done, remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F.  Place the oat mixture in a large bowl and add puffed rice cereal (if using) and flaxseed.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs.  Using the cooled peanut butter mixture temper the eggs by adding several spoonfuls of the peanut butter mix to the eggs, stirring constantly. Then whisk together the eggs with the remaining peanut butter.

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Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to combine.  Gently fold in chocolate chips.

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Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Cut into 18 squares and store in and airtight container or individual snack bags in the freezer.

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IMG_6677What a great way to utilize the vegetables coming out of the garden!  This sandwich is so versatile.  Feel free to play around with different vegetables, and each time you do, be prepared for a yummy dinner!  (Sorry there’s no picture of the sandwiches!  We dug into these so quickly, there wasn’t any time to get the camera out!)

1 medium Zucchini
1 medium Summer squash (yellow, patty pan, eight ball, round French, etc)
1 Red bell pepper
1 medium Onion
3 cloves Garlic, minced
4 tbs Mayo
3 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cp Crumbled Feta Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Sandwich Rolls

To ensure even grilling, the goal is to slice the vegetables into relatively the same thickness.  With that in mind, cut the tips off the zucchini and slice it down the length.  For my sandwiches I used round French zucchini that I sliced and left in its round shape.

Cut the red bell pepper in half, remove the core, seeds and any remaining membrane.  Cut into quarters.

Remove the outer layer of onion skin and cut the onion into ¼ inch rounds.

Mince the garlic.  In a small bowl, combine ½ of the garlic with the mayo; stir to combine and set aside.  In a second small bowl combine the remaining garlic with the olive oil; stir to combine.

Preheat the grill to medium high.  Brush one side of the vegetable pieces with the garlic olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the oiled side down on the grates of the grill and brush the second side of the vegetables with the oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill until all the vegetables have nice grill marks and are slightly softened.  (The bell pepper and onions will take longer than the zucchini and squash.)

While the vegetables are grilling cut the rolls in half and spread one of the cut sides with the garlic mayo and sprinkle generously with feta cheese.

Once the vegetables are done, remove from the grill to a plate.  Add the sandwich rolls to the grill, cheese side up and close the grill top.  This will allow the cheese to melt, but watch carefully as the buns can burn easily!

Remove the sandwich rolls from the grill and layer the grilled vegetables on top of the rolls.  Serve immediately.

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Jul
29

Summer Slaw

Posted by: Kristina Evans | Comments (3)

IMG_6689Without the mayo this slaw has great nutritional value with no fat and is high in vitamin C.   It works great as a side dish with your favorite grilled meat or seafood, but it shines as a topping for homemade tacos!

½ Cabbage, shredded or cut finely
1 Red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 Jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly
½ Red onion, sliced thinly
2 Limes, juice only
1 Bunch of Cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare cabbage, remove the outer leaves and toss them (or better yet put in the compost bin.)  Cut cabbage in half, then quarters.  Remove the cabbage core, by cutting through the base end of the cabbage at an angle.  Thinly slice the remaining cabbage or grate on the largest setting of a box grater.

Place cabbage in a bowl with sliced red bell pepper, jalapeno (seeds and membrane removed for less heat or left in for added heat) and red onion.

Cut the limes in half and juice directly into the bowl.

Chop the cilantro and add to the cabbage mixture.  Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Categories : Dinner, Lunch, Real Food!
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That’s right a hot dog.  I don’t know if I should admit that I actually enjoy a good hot dog, but nonetheless there it is… I like a good hot dog.  There is no better time to eat a hot dog than at a baseball game.  The problem is finding out what is in the hot dog.  99 percent of the hot dogs out there probably shouldn’t be eaten, and I won’t be partaking, thank you very much! Read More→

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