Nourishing Chicken Stock

Makes 8 C

chicken stock

Fall is here.  Yes, even in the desert.  It’s not quite like what I’m used to.  There isn’t a crisp chill in the air, there aren’t any changing colors of leaves and there isn’t that clean, cool smell in the air.  Instead temperatures are leaving the 100s on a regular basis, the beautiful sunset is coming earlier, and mornings are cool and resemble spring. Still the cravings for nourishing soups, everything apples, pumpkin and squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, those are the same.  Fall lives in me apparently.

The basis of all soups and most meals should be a beautiful stock.  Not only will this foundation of flavor elevate your dish, it’s also a great way to get some serious nourishment into your (already nutritious) meals.  There’s a lot of talk about stock, broth, bone broth, what’s the best way to do this or that.  Everyone has their own version and that’s the reason there are so many answers.

The distinction between a stock and a broth is usually salt.  Stocks by their virtue simply provide a base from which all other foods and flavors can spring from and come to life.  You will add salt and other seasonings to your dish, so there doesn’t need to be any in the stock.  Also, as the stock reduces, so does the concentration of salt and this becomes difficult to control.

Broths are seasoned.  You can drink them on their own or use them like you would a stock, but carefully.  There is such a thing as too much flavor in a dish and you don’t want a lot of competition going on, on your tastebuds.  Stocks are meant to be balanced yet neutral. Broths are meant to impart a bolder flavor of their own.

You want the most wholesome ingredients going into this base.  It’s what good cooking is about.  And, good cooking refers both to tasty and healthy.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew that instinctively, so they chose whole and fresh vegetables and bones from animals of which they’d already consumed the meat.  (Back then, it wasn’t labeled organic or grass-fed because everything already was those things!  For our times though I would recommend starting your dishes off well and going with as much organic as possible and definitely, grass-fed, pastured, free-range, farm happy animals.)

Bone stocks provide nutrients from the bones of the chicken, beef, fish, whatever you’re using.  There you will find minerals such as calcium (bone-building), phosphorus (regulates intracellular pressure) and magnesium (regulates over 300 enzymatic reactions).  The latter of which is a mineral most of us (in the U.S.) are chronically lacking.  Equally important are the cartilage and gelatin found in bones.  These goodies literally moisturize our joints and skin, aid in repairing of bone and our own cartilage and help our digestion along.  For more in depth info, I found this page at The Jade Institute to be really informative.

Ingredients need not be limited to the ones below.  You could throw in leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, etc.  Stay away from cruciferous vegetables for stocks and also spinach.  They don’t do so well in stock company.  This is a simple stock, so simple you can easily throw it together weekly.  There are many lovely stocks with earthy or sweet flavors, fish or curry flavors, or the roasted flavor of mushrooms.  Yum.  Those recipes to follow…eventually!

Stock up and enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 3 carrots, chopped in 2″ pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped in 2″ pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat side of your knife
  • 2 potatoes, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, quartered
  • 1 bunch of parsley (or stems)
  • 1 2 square inch piece of kombu
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 t fennel seeds
  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 10 C filtered water
  • large container of ice

To make:

  1. In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add all the vegetables.  Saute for a few minutes, just so the vegetables are coated and starting to brown.
  2. Add parsley, kombu, spices, and chicken carcass.  Then add water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and partially cover.
  3. Simmer for 4 hours.
  4. When stock is done, strain the chicken and vegetables out as soon as you can.  Then place the pot in an ice bath (a larger container filled with ice) to cool it quickly.  Divide stock into containers to either refrigerate or freeze.

*If refrigerating, use stock within 5-7 days.  If freezing, stock will last at least 2 months.

Tahini Miso Dip

Makes 1/2 C

IMG_2084

As a mom, I’m always searching for another goody to whip up in the kitchen that just may WOW my toddler.  She’s a good eater most of the time, and I am certainly grateful for that.  Still, it’s good to keep pushing the envelope, expanding gastronomic horizons, and educating the palate.

I’m also doing a 4-week detox at the moment and miso, while solely my addition to this type of detox, plays a big role in my diet.  Having spent 3 years living in Japan, I’ve come to LOVE miso soup in all its variations and for every meal of the day.  Breakfast, too.  But, it’s so nice when it pops up in a place you least expect it.

A.G., a peer in culinary school, first introduced this to me when I was doing all kinds of experiments with my diet.  It’s expanded and grown over the years, but this time I’ve kept it simple, for those still tender and emerging tastebuds that can so easily be put off (seemingly) forever!

Why miso?

The simple answer is that it’s a true super food.  The details are as follows:

  • Miso is a fermented paste of soybeans, rice, barley or other grain and a koji inoculant.
  • Fermented means that is a probiotic.
  • Probiotic = bacteria.  The good bacteria that create a lustrous environment of strong cells to ward off the not-friendly bacteria.  It’s the immune boosting bacteria that also settles your digestive system.  And, it also makes you happy.  Seriously.
  • Miso is a known anti-carcinogen and is also known to reduce the effects of radiation and environmental toxins.  (Next time you’re going for x-rays, eat miso before and afterwards.  Help your body out!)

In this recipe it’s used completely raw, but when you’re cooking with miso, you want to make sure you don’t COOK the miso.  Heating miso kills all of its incredible healing properties.  So, if you’re making soup for example, add a bit of the water/stock to a small bowl and dissolve the miso in it before adding it to the pot.  Make sure the stove is off and just stir it in.  It’ll work it’s magic, in flavor and healing, on its own.

To be honest, my little one doesn’t love this just yet, but I know it’s totally up her alley.  All she has to do is try it!

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 C organic tahini
  • 2 t yellow or red miso (depending on your preferences…I used red miso.)
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lime juice (or lemons)
  • 1/2 t lime zest (or lemon)
  • 2-3 T water (you could need more depending on the consistency you’re looking for)

To make:

Stir all ingredients together except for the water.  Then, add the water in a slow drizzle to achieve the level of consistency you’re happiest with.  If it’s a bit too tart, you can add a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup to even it out.

Enjoy and smile 🙂

Grilled Lemony Kale

Makes as much as you make

grilled kale

I’ve been talking about missing kale since I left the States back in January.  Now that we’re back in the Hudson Valley for the summer, I’ve stopped talking and writing about it because I’m far too busy cooking and eating it!  What sweet joy it is to be reunited with kale…Tuscan Kale, Curly Kale, Red Russian Kale…keep it coming!

I had been eager to get Claire to try kale chips since, I have to admit, she isn’t very keen on her dark leafy greens just yet.  (Especially raw greens 😦 ) I wasn’t very eager however, to turn the oven on.  In addition to being reunited with the diverse bounty of the region, we were reunited with humidity.  Kind of makes me wish for the dry, desert heat.

So, when it’s too hot to bake or roast, it’s a perfect time to grill.  Just as I would do for kale chips, I lightly dressed these leaves, still attached to their stems, in olive oil, a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper. That’s it.  But really, that’s all you need.  This kale is from Blooming Hill Farm, located 20 minutes from where I’m staying.  You could still taste the sweet Earth in every bite and the nourishment is the bonus.

Kale is a super food.  It’s not a trendy super food that will die out to the next trend.  Kale sets the bar for other trends, plain and simple.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Kale is a member of the Brassica family, cousins with Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli.  This is a special family of vegetables, responsible for a whole host of health benefits such as promoting detoxification, protecting against cardiovascular disease, and kicking several cancers’ a**!  Excuse my French, but kale really does perform when it comes to prevention and even treatment of various cancers.  The antioxidants, especially lutein and beta carotene, are responsible for this special power.  Kale also has what are called glucosinolates which are specifically “anti-cancer nutrients”¹.  Throw in the potent anti-inflammatory properties that kale possesses and you’ve got a winning recipe to combat oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, 2 main causes that lead to most diseases, including cancer.

Kale is also a super detox food.  The goodie nutrients help protect you from the toxins floating around whether you’re actually doing a detox or not.  Then there’s the fiber and specific sulfur compounds that actually aid in the detox process.  It would be wise to eat steamed kale or throw it into a smoothie before, during or after your detox/fast.

I would be remiss for not mentioning the abundant stores of Vitamins A and C (also antioxidants) and Vitamin K, calcium and iron. That’s a lot of muscle for a dark leafy green.

Ready for the cherry on top?  Claire loved these kale “chips”!  (Hint, hint to you moms trying to get some dark leafy greens into your kids’ tummies!)

You’ll need:

  • 1-2 bunches of kale (depending on how much you want to end up with)
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 healthy pinch of sea salt or my new staple Himalayan pink salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • 1 t lemon zest (from an organic lemon), for garnish

To make:

  1. Turn the grill on and keep setting to low.
  2. Wash and dry the kale leaving the leaves and stems intact. Then drizzle with olive oil and turn to coat the leaves.  You don’t want to use too much oil or the leaves will simply get limp.
  3. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper if using.
  4. Arrange the leaves to line up next to each other on the grill.  After about 2-3 minutes, turn leaves over.  You may need to do this a couple of times until you reach your desired level of crunchy to wilted ratio.
  5. When done (5-6 minutes, really), remove and place in a bowl.  Garnish with lemon zest.
  6. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy all summer long!

¹http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38

Cacao Nut Butter Truffles

Makes 18-20 truffles

chocolate nut butter truffles

These have waited a while to make it to the blog and my apologies for those who have been waiting!  My first excuse is that they’ve hardly lasted long enough for me to get a decent picture. My second excuse is that kombucha had been waiting a while, too. Lastly, we left the desert for the summer and since arriving back in the Hudson Valley we’ve been enjoying family time and the region’s summer bounty.

But, we’re here now and these delicious morsels are getting impatient to make their debut!

This recipe comes in handy in 2 major ways for me. They are a quick and easy yet presentable goody I can whip up for play dates and other gatherings.  More importantly, they’re a great, homemade sweet that I feel good enough about to give to Claire.  I am well aware that I will not be able to control everything that goes into her mouth and little body, especially as she gets older, bolder, and sees what her peers are up to.  For the time being however, I can control bit by bit the sweets and treats she chooses and therefore minimize as much as possible her exposure to unrefined products, dyes and other chemicals and worse yet, GMOs.

So, what is it about these truffles that make me feel so good?  There are 3 short, sweet and simple answers:  Cacao, Coconut, and Nut Butter (here, cashew butter, but almond butter and peanut butter have been equally, deliciously successful).

Cacao – Its history stems from South America and Mexico and their ancient cultures knew then what science is now confirming.  Raw cacao is an incredible source of antioxidants.  It is rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, copper, zinc and manganese and in Vitamins A, C, E, and some B vitamins.  As if that weren’t enough, the theobromine in cacao, a diuretic that aids in expelling toxins, is also a mood enhancer.  That’s why you feel happy after you eat chocolate.  Seratonin gets a boost, you get the happies.  Oh, and in some circles it is considered an anti-aging food and a smart food¹.  I’m personally not going to argue with that.

Coconut –  Shredded coconut is the actual meat of the coconut and it is full of fiber (gut health galore), and minerals such as potassium, iron, manganese, and selenium.  These all serve different functions of the body ranging from bone development, nerve and muscle function and regulating blood pressure.  Coconut’s true claim to fame however, is its medium chain fatty acids (MCT). Fat, as you may now know, is a friend and the saturated fat in coconut is actually GOOD for you and your brain.  It’s good for joint and nerve function and may even reduce triglyceride levels.  We’ve been taught fat is bad, but not all fat is created equal and this fat is one of those good ones.

Cashew Butter – Cashews’ fatty acids (most of which are unsaturated) contain oleic acid, the same found in olive oil, and is good, good, good for cardiovascular health.  Cashews also contain minerals such as copper and magnesium and are also particularly high in antioxidants.  And if you’re looking to lose inches (or centimeters…however you roll) adding nuts and their butters to your diet would be a big help.

Aren’t you impressed with the über health benefits of this little truffle?  That’s only the half of it…wait till you taste it!

Cacao Nut Butter Truffles

*adapted from Food 52 contributor (It’s a great site with great ideas and once I saw this one I had to try it!)

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 C dark chocolate (the darker the better)
  • 1/2 C nut butter (I used Honey Cinnamon Cashew Butter)
  • 1/4 C + 1 T brown rice syrup OR maple syrup OR honey
  • 1 T coconut butter (optional)
  • 2 T cacao powder
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t sea salt (I used Himalayan Rock Salt because it was all I had.)
  • 1 1/2 C unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 C finely chopped nuts (for rolling truffles)

To make:

  1. Combine all ingredients, except shredded coconut, in a sauce pan and heat over low-medium heat, stir to blend well.
  2. When the mixture is melted, remove from heat and mix in 1 C of shredded coconut. Let mixture cool completely.
  3. When mixture is cooled, form tablespoon size balls and place on baking sheet. You should get 18-20 truffles.  Roll the truffles in remaining 1/2 C shredded coconut and/or nuts, if using.  Alternatively, you could fill mini-muffin cups with the cacao/coconut mixture and top with nuts or shredded coconut.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Enjoy!

¹ http://www.enjoydarkchocolate.com/dark-chocolate/what-is-cacao.html

Spiced Date Syrup

Yields 1-1 1/2C (about)spiced date syrup

Happy Anniversary Guaya Gourmet!

Somehow we are at our first year anniversary!  Last year when I began blogging here, Claire was 5 months old and spent most of her time in the kitchen with me in her carrier.  Now, she spends her time climbing on and off the footstool, opening drawers and cabinets and subsequently hiding my measuring cups and spoons, and helping me by mixing or adding ingredients.  Oh, and we also live in a foreign country.  A lot has changed.

Other surprises over the past year include; gathering quite a following (THANK YOU for reading and following!), developing relationships with other bloggers via social media networks, learning a ton about social media and how useful it is, learning and working with the developing taste buds and moods of a baby foodie, and being consistently amazed about the people I meet as a result of the food that inspires and delights me.

It has been a fruitful and eventful year.  And with every meal that has made it to these pages and all the meals that haven’t, we have been grateful.

That was my toast.  Now on to the real reason you’re here.

For our anniversary blog post, Claire and I thought it would be most logical to write about a local ingredient.  We miss maple syrup (along with kale) and while it is available here, it is prohibitively expensive and well, not very local.  Enter dates!

Dates are incredibly nutritious and the best part about this syrup is that it is a whole food.  You are getting the sweetener without any of the fiber removed so it is much easier assimilated and processed by the body and your body doesn’t get a shock from the sugar.

What makes dates special?  FIBER, POTASSIUM, B-COMPLEX VITAMINS, and ANTIOXIDANTS do!  Let’s do a quick recap on why we should care about these characteristics.

Fiber:  Soluble fiber (remember the peas?) dissolves and becomes gel-like traveling slowly through your digestive tract, makes you feel fuller and longer and it binds to cholesterol lingering around your body and escorts it out.

Potassium:  A mineral that is critical for muscle contraction.  So, dates are especially good if you’ve got an exercise regime you adhere to.  But, even if you don’t, you know what else is a muscle…your heart!  “A critical electrolyte, potassium allows our muscles to move, our nerves to fire, and our kidneys to filter blood. The right balance of potassium literally allows the heart to beat.”¹

B-Complex Vitamins:  This is a team of vitamins that are essential for many bodily functions such as making blood cells, maintaining blood glucose levels and they are also key for mind-related health such as mood, memory and stress.  Click here for more detailed and fascinating info.

Antioxidants:  I love these.  Dates have polyphenols which are particularly effective at protecting the body, destroying free radicals roaming around.  We’re all vulnerable to oxidative stress so you can’t ever really get too many antioxidants!

You can use this syrup in your baking, as a topping on pancakes, waffles, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, in your smoothies or even as a sweetener for your morning coffee.  However you use it, enjoy every delicious minute of it!

You’ll need:

12-15 pitted dates, Medjool or Halawii

1-1 1/2 C water- I had some coconut water so I added that, too.

3-4 (slightly crushed) cardamom pods

To make:

1.  Place pitted dates and cardamom in a bowl or jar and add just enough water to cover dates.  Let sit for at least 4 hours or as in my case, overnight.

2.  Remove cardamom pods and blend water and dates until syrup forms.  If you want, you could run it through a sieve or cheesecloth for a finer consistency.

3.  That’s it!  It will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks.

4.  Enjoy!

¹http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/potassium-and-your-heart

Black Bean and Quinoa…Burger?

For picky, I mean, moody eaters, especially!

Makes 4 adult burgers and 3 baby burgers:)  (or 6 adult burgers)

blackbean and quinoa burger

It finally happened.  What parents everywhere told me would happen. My baby girl who ate EVERYTHING suddenly only wanted bread. Oh, what a slippery slope that bread, pasta, pita, naan route is.  It happened a few days before we left the USA and it got worse when we arrived.  My daughter’s addiction also involved copious amounts of olives (all kinds), feta once in a while, and raisins.  Still, getting her to eat variety (bye, bye balanced meals) was impossible.  And like any new mom, I enabled her.

Worried sick that she isn’t eating well, or enough, (what’s that about percentiles?) results in me enabling her “pickiness”.  Please, just eat something, anything!  As if all calories are equal.  I’m a health-supportive chef, I know this!  But, I’m also a new mom and reason isn’t always the first thing that comes to the rescue when worry sets in.

Yet, logic did follow.  She wouldn’t starve.  She kept eating those (usually refined) foods because I had made them available to her.  And she knew that!  And so the experimenting began…again.

First- eliminate those bread-y foods she’s addicted to.  She’ll get hungry and she’ll eat, (eventually), what IS available.

Second- go back to basics.  For us this meant going back to foods she used to love and again, because she’s older now, tweaking seasoning, textures, cuts, and believe it or not, presentation.

Third- be persistent and consistent.  If she doesn’t want to eat something, try again another time, try another form (in soup, as finger food, puree???), but keep trying.

I’ve been surprised with the outcome.  Claire IS an adventurous eater and she will try most things.  She eats well on most days.  On others she can’t be bothered as much.  It’s led me to wonder about these terms we’re so quick to label our kids with; picky, fussy eaters.  I’m reluctant to call Claire picky yet.  I think she’s still working on developing her tastebuds and like all people, sometimes she’s in the mood for (fill in the blank) and sometimes she isn’t.  Can’t blame her for that!  But I know that if I want her to develop healthy eating habits and become an adult who eats vegetables as well as a varied diet, then I have to give her those foods now.  If I want her to grow up loving and enjoying food, from sourcing it to cooking to eating, then we have to do those things now, together, as a family.

The experiment continues!

Now, let’s get to this burger.  It has quickly become a household favorite.  As an ex-vegetarian, I find I’m always trying to find the next amazing veggie burger because so many fall flat.  (Boca Burgers are gravely insulting to vegetarians!)  They also work great for Claire because she can pick up each delicious, nutrient dense bite with her little fingers.  I opted for quinoa, in an effort to avoid using wheat products (flour, breadcrumbs) where I don’t really have to, because she’ll inevitably end up eating it elsewhere, so minimizing her exposure (and increasing diversity) is in our best interest.  If black beans and quinoa have not made a home in your pantry yet, what are you waiting for?

Happy cooking!  Happy Eating!

You’ll need:

1 C dried black beans, soaked

1 1″ piece of kombu

1 bay leaf

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground coriander

1/2 C cooked quinoa

1/2 C walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 C finely shredded carrots (1 medium sized carrot should suffice)

1 small red onion, chopped

1/4 C parsley, finely chopped

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make:

1.  Cook off the beans.  Drain and rinse and add beans to a soup pot with enough water to cover.  Add kombu and bay leaf and let boil on high heat for 10 minutes.  Skim the foam off as often as needed.  After 10 minutes, reduce heat to medium, add cumin, coriander and a nice, solid pinch of sea salt.  Partially cover and cook for 50 minutes or until beans are very tender.  When done, drain (reserve some liquid, just in case) and mash with a potato masher.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the beans and mix well.  (Optional:  You could refrigerate the mixture at this point to let is set and get firm before making patties, but it’s not necessary.)  Form 6 even patties.

3.  Heat 1/2T of oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Cook burger about 5 minutes on first side or until golden brown, then flip burger and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

4.  Serve on a roll or pita (when in Rome, right!) and top with your favorite burger toppings.  I also like to serve it over an arugula salad with avocado.  YUM!

5.  Enjoy!

Honey Cinnamon Cashew Butter

(with a touch of nutmeg)

Makes about 1 C

honey cinnamon cashew butter

I’ve already learned a few things this year:  1.  Recycled resolutions are just as good as new ones, 2. Writing your goals down is a good practice, 3. Starting the New Year without any kind of hangover is the best way to go and 4. Claire Berlin has a food addiction.  Her addiction is to cashew butter.

I made a bunch of these Honey Cinnamon Cashew Butters as host/hostess gifts over the holidays and was lucky to have a few jars left over.  Now that Claire is past the 1 year mark, nuts and honey are foods that have moved to the OK list.  She seems very pleased with that!  As far as food addictions go, this one isn’t so terrible.  It makes a great nutritious snack with some celery sticks or apples, for babies and adults alike.

Cashews are the lesser known nut in the nut butter melange.  Peanuts obviously, but then almonds took over as the go-to nut butter.  And for good reason!  But cashews, oh cashews are mild, sweet and delicate in flavor.  They are so rich, too.  Cashews are MY go-to nut, especially when I’m making nut milk and butter.  Have you ever tried ice cream made from cashew milk?  It’s heavenly!

Cashews are originally Brazilian though we do get cashews from East Africa as well.  Have you ever noticed that you never see cashews in their shell?  It’s because their shell contains a toxic oil called cardol, which like its relative poison ivy, burns the skin if you touch it.¹  So, they roast the cashews, crack off the shell and roast again and voilà, they’re safe for consumption!

As far as nuts go, cashews have much less fat than other nuts and, most of its fat is unsaturated.  Cashews’ fatty acids contains oleic acid which promotes good cardiovascular health.  They are also high in antioxidants which may seem surprising.  Cashews are high in copper and magnesium.  Copper “plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin“²  Likewise, magnesium is responsible for several functions in the body including balancing our calcium intake, as well as regulating nerve and muscle tone.²  And, contrary to what many believe, nuts help you lose weight, NOT gain it!  (Any resolutions coming to mind??)

So, jump start your resolutions and/or goals this year with a spoonful of this sweet, creaminess!  Your heart will thank you, your bones will thank you, your cells will thank you, your waistline will thank you and your taste buds will simply adore you.  Not a bad way to start the new year!

Happy Cooking and Happy New Year, friends!

You’ll need:

2 C raw, organic cashews

3/4 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t (scant) nutmeg, freshly grated, if possible

2 t honey

2-3 T organic coconut oil*

To make:

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until it resembles nut butter.

2. This sounds easy but it takes some time.  You’ll have to stop the food processor several times to scrape down the sides and bottom.  You may also have to adjust the oil for a creamier texture or add more nuts if you want a chunkier, thicker butter.

3. Place in small jars to give away or save it all for yourself!

4. Enjoy, Enjoy!

*Because of the use of the coconut oil, the cashew butter will get hard after it’s been in the fridge for a while.  It can be made without it, but the texture will be much thicker.

¹Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

² http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=98