Friday, September 23, 2011

Hot Pepper Relish

I have been getting a lot of peppers from my CSA share lately, especially hot peppers. Peppers are nutritional powerhouses! They are full of vitamins A, and C which are powerful antioxidants along with cancer fighting properties and immune system enhancers. They also have vitamin K which promotes proper blood clotting and protects the cells from oxidative damage. Hot peppers help fight bacteria and boost immunity.

My Husband requested that I make some hot pepper relish so that was my project for the day. Because I was making more than one jar, I decided to can them. I sterilized my jars in the dishwasher on the "Sani" cycle and the lids in boiling water. I added water to my stock pot to boil for canning when I was ready to put in the jars. Meanwhile, it was time to prepare the peppers.

I did have a recipe that I loosely followed. Here is the recipe that I used. It is from and was posted there by "Gator Lady".

Hot Pepper Relish


4 large bell peppers, any color
2 red onions
5-10 hot peppers
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons corn starch.

I did not have the exact amounts of peppers the recipe called for. I wore latex gloves to keep the heat of the peppers away from my skin. I seeded the bell peppers and cut the tops off of the cayenne and jalapeno peppers, cut the onions, and peeled the garlic. I kept the seeds in the hot peppers. They can be removed for less "heat".

I then pulsed everything in my food processor so it was nice and fine and added it to a medium-size pot on the stove on medium-high heat while adding organic apple-cider vinegar, celtic sea salt, evaporated can sugar, and organic corn starch. I brought the mixture to a boil and then simmered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After the peppers were cooked, I got my jars (which were still hot) from the dishwasher, dried the lids, and spooned the peppers into each jar. I have an improvised jar funnel taken from my juicer that works nicely for canning. I filled them with a quarter inch of room at the top of each jar and lidded them. I placed them into the boiling water of my stock pot using tongs, making sure the jars were covered with the water. I placed the lid on the pot and boiled the jars for 10 minutes. I then removed them with the tongs to a hotplate and dried the lids. They will cool overnight and then they can be stored. I can't wait to give a jar to my Dad! He loves hot peppers. This stuff is really hot!!!

It's time to spice things up!!



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup is one of my favorite cold and flu preventatives and also my go-to remedy to soothe a cold or flu that has already arrived. It is fantastic for coughs as well. It is very inexpensive and so easy to make yourself. A quart of it costs about $5 to make at home versus the upwards of $9 per 4 ounces you will pay at a health food store.

 Black Elderberries, or Sambucus Nigra, have been used for thousands of years to strengthen the immune system. They are a wonderful source of vitamin C. Elderberry Syrup can be taken daily as a tonic and dosage increased when one is ill.

I use the recipe from Rosemary Gladstar from her book "Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health", but there are many variations to making this syrup. I added comments where needed. This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled!

Elderberry Syrup

1 cup Fresh or 1/2 Dried Elderberries(I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)
3 cups water
1 cup honey(or sugar) - I only use honey if I am not reducing the syrup into a thick cough syrup. *See below for reason.

1. Place the berries in a saucepan and and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes.
2. Smash the berries. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer(smashing and mashing as you go to get out all the juice) and add 1 cup of honey, or adjust to taste.
3. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least 2 to 3 months. If you sterilize your bottles and lids first, your will reduce the chance of mold forming where air hits the inside of the jar and lid.
Caution: Use only blue elderberries; the red ones are potentially toxic if eaten in large quantities. Never eat elderberries that haven't been cooked first.
Another word of caution - Elderberry stains....everything! Be careful!
*Because I use raw honey, I do not reduce further after adding because it will kill the enzymes in the honey. Reduce prior to adding the honey or use sugar(evaporated cane sugar).

You can also add freshly grated ginger to this recipe for added medicinal benefits.

I usually give my kids, toddler and up about a tablespoon daily during cold and flu season. I take 2 tablespoons daily.

To Your Health,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Nourished Pregnancy

As I sit here on the cusp of my third trimester with my fourth baby, I've had a lot of time to think about my favorite subject, food. I have been thinking about what a nourished pregnancy looks like. When you look at a pregnant mother who is truly nourished, is she thin? Is she heavy? What does it look like. I believe that every woman's body handles pregnancy differently and in turn, looks different. Some women stay thin looking all over and gain the usual 30 lbs or so but have that healthy pregnancy glow. Others gain all over and may even go over the "recommended" weight gain but again, still have that glow. What I see when I look in the mirror is a mom who while gaining weight all over has maintained her pre-pregnancy clothes size, has beautiful skin, bright eyes, and looks very healthy. With my youngest daughter, I gained just about 30 lbs. I am already almost at 30 lbs and I still have 12 weeks to go! I am not worried though because I am eating what I am supposed to be eating an exercising every day. My body knows what to do and how much it needs to gain. Am I a fan of weight gain? Well, no! Of course not! What woman is? However, it is temporary and it will come off beginning when I hold my beautiful baby in my arms.

So what does a nourished mother eat? I think this will vary mother to mother. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, your nourishment will look different than a mother who follows a more traditional foods way of eating. For me, I try to be mindful of what it seems like my body needs. I loosely follow the Weston A. Price Foundation's recommendations for what to eat while pregnant but it tends to be too much food for me. I drink raw milk every day. During my first trimester I drank well over a quart per day. I was nauseated all day every day and raw milk was the one thing I could drink and feel satisfied from. I eat a lot of vegetables, especially salads with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and dulse(seaweed) flakes. I belong to a CSA and get a box of vegetables weekly so I have been eating quite a few tomatoes and eggplants as of late. I drink coconut water and pregnancy tea which I think is truly key in being nourished. I get so many vitamins and minerals from the pregnancy tea and feel so amazing when I drink it. *See recipe below. Because I have myself on a regular workout schedule, I feel that the coconut water really replenishes my electrolytes and gives me the potassium I need to avoid leg cramps. I eat pastured eggs from a local farm every morning for breakfast. Eggs are the perfect food with many of the essential vitamins and minerals that mom and baby need to stay nourished. The yolks of my eggs are orange from the chickens being able to roam free and eat grass and bugs like they are meant to.

Some women don't take pre-natal vitamins for a variety of reasons. Even many holistic foodies say they would rather get their vitamins from food than from a supplement. While I agree with that to some extent, I personally do take a pre-natal vitamin. I was introduced to Innate Response during this pregnancy and fell in love with them. I feel like my body needs them and I feel much better when taking them. They are a whole food vitamin and are especially helpful on days when nausea gets the better of you or you just couldn't get everything food-wise that you really needed. They don't smell so they are easy to take. If you are not eating a good, whole food based diet, you do need some kind of whole food based supplementation or you will feel like the life is being drained out of you. What happens is that the baby will get his/her nutrients one way or another. If he/she can't get them from what you are eating, you will start to lose vital nutrients that are stored in organs and bones. You may feel fatigued and be plagued with all sorts of pre-natal woes. Nutrition is SO important, especially during pregnancy. If you don't think what you are eating matters, you are doing both you and your baby a disservice. *I DO NOT recommend prescription pre-natals or over-the-counter pre-natals that use synthetic vitamins. These are not helpful at all. Always consult your midwife or healthcare provider before starting any supplementation.

My all-time favorite food-based supplement is Fermented Cod Liver Oil or FCLO. It gives you your vitamin A and vitamin D as well as your omega-3 fatty acids which are so incredibly crucial for your baby's brain development. This is especially essential in your third trimester when the brain is doing the most development. You can get FCLO from Green Pasture. I also take probiotics as well as drink milk kefir and water kefir. These are great sources of probiotics which are essential for gut health in mother and baby.

Overall, I have been able to stay 99% organic throughout this entire pregnancy. We have gone out to eat a couple of times and I have eaten at other people's houses where they do not eat organic. At home though, I am very strict about what goes into my mouth. No white flour, no white sugar, no caffeine in coffee, no alcohol, no soda(which I don't drink anyway), and minimal sweets...even "healthy" ones. I do occasionally have a cookie or some ice cream. I have a love for baking and happen to own an ice cream maker so I can make raw milk ice cream. Yum!

A nourished mama means a nourished baby. What you eat DOES matter. Be nourished.

Pregnancy Tea Recipe - I put it in a quart jar and my herb amounts vary(I use TBS as my "part")
*Adapted from a recipe by Aviva Jill Romm

2 parts red raspberry leaf
2 parts nettle
1/2 part oatstraw
1/2 part alfalfa
1/4 part red clover
1/4 part rose hips
1 part hibiscus flowers
1/4 part spearmint

Put herbs into a quart jar and cover with hot water. Let steep 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. Strain, sweeten with stevia if preferred and drink throughout the day.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


This is a seasonal recipe that I used to make with my elementary after-school program. This time of year I need a lot of recipes to use up my squash and eggplant. This one uses both! It's fantastic by itself or as a side dish. I left out the mushrooms this time because I did not have any. I have a ton of Tarragon in my herb garden which is wonderful to use in place of the Oregano in this recipe. I also substitute ghee for the olive oil because I prefer not to heat olive oil. You can purchase ghee from Pure Indian Foods. You can also add a hot pepper in with this recipe to give it some kick and extra flavor. I chop the peppers and onions rather than cut them into rings so my kids will eat them. They love this dish and cleaned their plates!

As always, use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Courtesy of Jeanne Hammonds, A.S.E. Enrichment

1/3 C. Olive oil, butter or ghee
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, sliced into thick rings or roughly chopped
4 medium zucchini, sliced
¼ pound mushrooms, sliced
1 green or red pepper, seeds removed and cut into rings or roughly chopped
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
4 firm tomatoes, quartered
¼ C. fresh chopped parsley
½ tsp. oregano or tarragon
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup or more grated parmesan cheese
ground black pepper to taste


Heat ghee in a large frying pan and sauté garlic and onion until onions are limp.  Add zucchini, mushrooms and pepper and sauté a few minutes longer.  Remove from heat and add the eggplant and tomatoes, parsley, oregano, basil and vegetable seasoning.  Mix well.  Pour into a casserole dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Serve at once.  It can also be served cold along with dark bread and cheese.  Yield:  8 servings

You kitchen will smell amazing!