Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vegan and Organic Chocolate Banana Muffins

My friend, Stephanie over at the Green Earth, Green Home Blog recently shared a recipe for Vegan/Organic Chocolate Banana Muffins. This recipe was given to her by Cassie, the proprietor of the Pomegranate Cafe in Phoenix, AZ. If you are ever in Phoenix, be sure to stop in and say hello! I made these today and can I just say, these are the BEST muffins I have ever eaten in my life! My kids said the same thing as well as a dear friend who stopped by today. This recipe uses maple syrup, and coconut oil to create the moistest, most decadent banana muffin you will ever eat. 
Here is a link to the recipe for these must-bake muffins.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Morning Recipe - Apple-Cinnamon Waffles

My favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning is cook. Being able to take my time and make a good nutritious breakfast is really important to me. During the week I make variations of eggs or slow-cooker oatmeal for the sake of time, but on Saturdays I can go all out. This morning we had one of our favorites: Apple-Cinnamon Waffles. This is my originally my Mom's recipe that I modified. There almost was no picture for these because my kids were eating them faster than I could stack them!

Apple-Cinnamon Waffles
(or Pancakes)

1 1/2 cup organic, whole wheat pastry flour (or substitute your favorite gluten-free flour)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon organic cinnamon
1 tablespoon organic evaporated cane (Rapadura) sugar or raw honey
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
2 free-range, organic eggs -- separated
1 cup organic milk (I use raw)

1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
3/4 cup peeled grated organic apples
1/4 cup organic butter or coconut oil

Extra organic butter and organic maple syrup (I use Grade B maple syrup) or honey for topping.

 Sift together flour, salt cinnamon, sugar and baking powder.
 Beat egg yolks; add milk and vanilla.
 Combine with dry mixture; add apples and melted butter (or oil).
 Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter.
 Bake until golden brown in hot waffle iron or pancake griddle.
 Top with organic butter and maple syrup or honey.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Make Kombucha

Kombucha is my favorite fermented drink. I am drinking some as I write this blog! It is a tea that is fermented using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY is also referred to as the "Mother", as in "mother of vinegar" or a mushroom because of its appearance. Kombuca's origins are in Russia but it is often credited to the Chinese and Japanese. In doing some research I found that the Kombucha we make here in the U.S. is not the same beverage that is made in Asia so I am giving the credit to Russia.

The bacteria in Kombucha acts as a probiotic in the gut which promotes good intestinal flora. Since most illness start in the gut (if not all), good gut health is crucial. Other benefits are that it is antimicrobial and full of antioxidants. It may even help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia and even help alleviate mild depression. Kombucha is also rich in enzymes, vitamin B, and amino acids. 

Kombucha is very easy to brew at home. It is made by combining the SCOBY, tea, and sugar. The SCOBY feeds off of the sugar and ferments the tea. All you need to make you own is a Kombucha SCOBY, water, black or green tea, sugar and some containers. You can purchase a SCOBY locally from a farm or online at Cultures for Health. The best way to obtain a SCOBY is to get one from a friend. They multiply after each batch so friends are willing to share the wealth.

Care must be taken to keep the SCOBY as sterile as possible as not to contaminate it. Always wash containers in very hot to boiling water and make sure you do not use any chemical soaps to clean surfaces that will touch the SCOBY. 

Basic Method:

Boil 3 quarts of water. 
Place 4 black or green tea bags (preferably organic tea) in a large glass bowl and add boiling water.
Add 1 Cup of sugar. I use evaporated cane sugar but even white sugar can be used here because it will all be gone when you drink the tea.
Wait until the tea is warm or slightly cooled down and add either 1/2 cup of vinegar or 1/2 cup of Kombucha from a previous batch.
Add the SCOBY. Be sure the tea is not hot!. Heat will kill it so do not add it to the hot water.
If you are using a large bowl you will need to put masking tape over the top like this picture shows so that your cover will not fall into the tea. You could alternatively use a cheesecloth with a rubber-band securing it to the bowl or a narrower jar. 

Cover the tea and place the bowl in a warm location. I have mine on my dining room table.
Leave for about a week. It will take longer to ferment in a cooler room. You can taste test through a straw for desired sourness. The more sour it is, the more healthful but definitely do it to your taste or you may not drink it regularly. If you leave it to ferment it will turn to vinegar.
When the tea has reached its desired fermentation, remove the SCOBY, which will have formed another at the top of your bowl, and strain the Kombucha into a glass jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for a very long time, some say forever, but I say try to drink it within a few months.

Store your SCOBYs in the refrigerator in a small amount of Kombucha. They will stay "dormant" until you need them again. 

There are other ways of brewing Kombucha but to start out, this is a good basic foundation.

Feel free to comment if you have any questions.


In Health,


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Archived Real Food Articles

A few years ago I was given the opportunity to write a series of articles for Natural Life 101, a natural health blog that is currently undergoing maintenance. Stephanie, the owner of that blog now has a great store called Green Earth Green Home and a Family Blog to go along with it. Here is a list of some of the articles in that series having to do with Real Food:

Happy Organic Thanksgiving
Have a Healthy Holiday
A Healthier You
A Healthier You Part II
Eating the Rainbow
Extraordinary Foods



Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Foods - 17 Bean and Barley Soup

Winter can be beautiful with snow, and ice skating, and nights cuddled up in front of the fire. It is a time when harvest is over except for some lingering winter crops and it is time to nourish the body with warming foods. Soups are wonderful this time of year to get a lot of nourishing ingredients into you at once. The immune system loves the boost a healthy soup brings to it after a full day of fighting off germs and the cold. Bone broths are especially nourishing and are full of mineral like calcium that is crucial to health. I realize that some of the terminology that I use may not be familiar to everyone. I will be blogging about how to make all of the basic essentials in future posts but wanted to share a recipe that my family loves in the winter.

I took the recipe from the back of the bag of Trader Joe's 17 Bean & Barley Soup and modified it. This recipe will work with any and every combination of 1 lb. of beans. Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

15 Bean & Barley Soup

1 lb. of beans ( I used Trader Joe's 17 Bean & Barley Soup)
64 oz of vegetable or chicken stock
1 large onion - chopped
4 stalks of celery - chopped
4 carrots - chopped
1 green or red bell pepper - chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
4 cloves garlic - crushed or chopped 
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (added after cooking has ended)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 can/jar of chopped tomatoes (Muir Glen and Trader Joe's use BPA-Free cans)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Ghee, butter, lard, tallow, or coconut oil to sauté vegetables.

Optional addition - I sometimes add a container of Trader Joe's organic red pepper and tomato soup to the pot. It add a richer flavor to it. 

Soak beans overnight covered in water. I soak mine for up to three days, draining and rinsing each day.

Rinse, drain, and set aside until needed.

Sauté vegetables in fat of choice until soft. Add basil.

Add broth, other seasonings, tomatoes, and beans. Simmer from 1 hour to all day if desired. This can also be made in a crock pot.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.

I serve it with a little freshly grated cheese and with bread. The kids love it as much as we do!



Saturday, January 8, 2011

Organic Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

My family LOVES banana bread, especially if it has chocolate chips in it. I have a recipe that I got from Erin Krug of Krug's Eco-Logic last year that I adapted and modified to be organic and healthier than other versions I have seen. It is so moist and delicious that you will want to keep a loaf or two around at all times! This recipe can be modified even more to be either gluten-free or made with soaked or sprouted flour. You can also play with the sweetener because the bananas, applesauce, and chocolate chips really do add to it. I find myself putting in less and less sweetener in each time. If you try to make this with white flour, white sugar, and artificial chocolate chips it won't taste as good as this recipe, guaranteed!

Organic Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

6 Mashed Organic Bananas
4 Organic Free-Range Eggs (Preferably from a local farm)
2 Teaspoons Organic Vanilla
3/4-1 Cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar, Rapadura or Raw Honey
2 Cups Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 Teaspoons Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (or substitute gluten-free, soaked, or sprouted flour)
2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Stick Organic Butter
1/2 Cup Organic Applesauce
1 Cup Organic Chocolate Chips

Mix together wet ingredients and add dry ingredients. Blend well and add chocolate chips.

Pour into two loaf pans that have either been buttered and floured or lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and then remove from pans.

Serve and keep leftovers in the refrigerator, if you have any!

This banana bread is wonderful with breakfast or a quick snack.


Sarah - The Real Food Organic Outlaw Mama

Friday, January 7, 2011

How To Make Kefir

Kefir is a traditional probiotic drink made from milk (or other liquids like coconut water) that has been fermented using cultures. These cultures are good bacteria strains that aid in fermenting the milk without it going bad. The key to health, whether it be good or bad is in the gut and probiotics help to heal and restore gut health. Kefir delivers many strains of good bacteria to the intestines to keep harmful bacteria at bay and can be taken daily. It is a bit expensive to buy in stores already made but very easy and inexpensive to make at home.

How to make kefir:

You will need a kefir crock or wide-mouth ball jar, a spatula, strainer, cheesecloth, large bowl with spout, raw milk, starter cultures.

Starter cultures can be obtained from a friend who makes kefir or at a local farm like Your Family Cow. They can also be purchased online at Cultures for Health.

The cultures look a little like cottage cheese. Some of them are larger and look like large tapioca.

Begin by placing starter cultures into kefir crock. I use 1-2 tablespoons.You'll notice the ring of cream inside my crock. I had just strained the previous batch and rinsing between batches is not necessary.

Then add your raw milk. I have a 2 quart crock and I fill it about two-thirds or so.

Cover crock with a cheesecloth or a clean towel and place in a dim place for 24-48 hours. The longer it sits the more "fizzy" it will become.

When the kefir is ready, strain it through a strainer or cheesecloth into a clean, preferably glass container.

Rinse and save the cultures for your next batch. They will multiply with each batch. Give the extras away to friends or store them in a container in the refrigerator for a short amount of time. They tend to go dormant if they are not being fed by the milk so they may take some coaxing to be reconstituted.

The kefir is now ready to serve. It will have a slightly yeasty smell to it which is normal. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator. Drink daily for maximum benefits. It will keep for a long time in the fridge and you can keep adding new kefir to it.

That's it! You now have fresh, organic kefir for just the cost of milk once you get your starters going. It is a wonderful addition to your real food diet.


Sarah - Your Real Food Organic Outlaw Mama

Kefir on FoodistaKefir

What is Real Food?

There is so much talk about what real food is. I wanted to give an overview of some real food basics. Each topic can be an entire blog post in itself but some general descriptions are a great start. In my home, real food is food that is in its natural state and that has not been processed, altered in an artificial way, or packaged.

Vegetables are an example of real food. They are "nature's candy"! They are full of vitamins and antioxidants that help heal the body and keep it healthy. Vegetables can be fermented, juiced, and preserved to meet every need and last all-year-round. Organic vegetables are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Organic farmers know how to properly rotate crops for pest control and maximum soil replenishment. The result is vegetables that are higher in vitamins and that are more nutritious than conventional vegetables. This is the same with fruit and how it is grown.

photo courtesy of humble seed

Some will stop there and say vegetables are the only true real food. I believe that there is more to it than that. Raw, organic milk from grass-fed cows or goats is an amazing enzyme and probiotic-rich food that nourishes and helps restore the body. All traditional people groups ate off the land and drank milk from their animals. It was how they survived and thrived. Pasteurized, homogenized milk is not really milk anymore without the enzymes and probiotics that are damaged or killed during processing and should not be consumed. Many people with "milk allergies" are not actually allergic to the milk. They are instead allergic to the denatured pasteurized milk. When the enzymes are destroyed it makes it very difficult to digest. 

photo courtesy of

Many environmentalists argue that the consumption of meat is a main contributor to climate change. In reality, while factory farming does increase green-house gas emissions, small family farms raising grass-fed, organic animals for meat do not. The difference between a factory farm and an organic family farm is night and day. Conventional farmers feed their animals grain (which is genetically modified) and keep them confined in large numbers together. They are often ill and require large amounts of antibiotics to keep them "healthy" and their milk and meat "safer" for consumption. In order to ensure maximum production, they are given hormones to make them grow faster and larger. Organic farmers provide large, open, areas for their animals to enjoy eating lush grass and breathe fresh air. They were not meant to eat grain so they do not. Grass-fed meat is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

photo courtesy of your family cow

Next time, we will talk about butter, eggs, lard and a few other real foods that are shunned in modern society but were valued and even considered sacred in traditional cultures.

 Stay tuned!

Sarah - The Real Food Organic Outlaw Mama